Weighted Vests, Stereotyped Behaviors and Arousal in Children with Autism

Abstract

The homeostatic theory of stereotyped behaviors assumes that these behaviors modulate arousal. Weighted vests are used to decrease stereotyped behaviors in persons with autism because the input they provide is thought to serve the same homeostatic function. This small-n, randomized and blinded study measured the effects of wearing a weighted vest on stereotyped behaviors and heart rate for six children with autism in the classroom. Weighted vests did not decrease motoric stereotyped behaviors in any participant. Verbal stereotyped behaviors decreased in one participant. Weighted vests did not decrease heart rate. Heart rate increased in one participant. Based on this protocol, the use of weighted vests to decrease stereotyped behaviors or arousal in children with autism in the classroom was not supported.

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Acknowledgments

The authors express appreciation to the children, parents, educational aides and teachers who participated in this project. This project was supported by grants from the Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research and the Canadian Occupational Therapy Foundation, and research awards received by the first author through the Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research, Autism Research Training Program (CIHR Strategic Initiative in Health Research), and Sick Kids Foundation: Children and Youth Home Care Network.

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Correspondence to Sandra Hodgetts.

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Hodgetts, S., Magill-Evans, J. & Misiaszek, J.E. Weighted Vests, Stereotyped Behaviors and Arousal in Children with Autism. J Autism Dev Disord 41, 805–814 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-010-1104-x

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • Stereotyped behaviors
  • Weighted vests
  • Arousal
  • Sensory modulation