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Inflatable deep pressure vest gives you a hug, could help Autism sufferers

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June 11, 2012

An attached hand pump allows the wearer to apply and regulate soothing pressure by pumping...

An attached hand pump allows the wearer to apply and regulate soothing pressure by pumping air to deliver a hug sensation

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Autism sufferers can often experience high levels of anxiety caused by sensory overload. While some would-be solutions focus on removing this sensory stimulation and distraction (like the Study Nook) others aim at dealing with the stress caused. The Squease Vest is an inflatable vest which, it's claimed, can help to alleviate anxiety through deep body pressure.

The vest, which will be launched to the public this week at the Autism Show at London’s ExCel, is said to be the first such remedy which is discreet enough that it can be worn all day and used as required. It uses the tried and tested method of deep pressure to calm an over-stimulated and overwhelmed wearer.

Looking a little like a bullet-proof vest, the device features zip and velcro fastenings and has air pockets all the way around it. An attached hand pump allows the wearer to apply and regulate soothing pressure by pumping or releasing air to deliver a hug sensation. Soft edging and a zip cover prevent irritation to the skin and elastic strips, which run vertically along the flanks of the vest, allow movement.

Studies have previously found that deep pressure releases naturally calming chemicals in the brain, along with endorphins which stimulate happiness. As such, occupational therapists use a number of methods to deliver this "big hug" sensation to people with autism, ADHD and sensory processing disorders.

However, such solutions have traditionally been somewhat cumbersome. While heavily weighted clothes, therapy blankets and swaddle-like wraps are significantly more practical for modern life than Temple Grandin's Hug Machine, they are often still not ideal for use out and about. Equally, tight-fitting therapy tops deliver a constant "hug" rather than just applying it when required.

Studies have previously found that deep pressure releases naturally calming chemicals in t...

The Squease Vest, which is also available with a compatible hooded sweatshirt, is said to be light and discreet enough that it can be worn all day. It is suggested that the best results come from inflating the vest for periods of around 20 minutes at stressful times and that when deflated, the vest sits loosely around the wearer's body.

"The vest is inflated by squeezing a hand pump, allowing the wearer to regulate and apply soothing pressure in everyday situations that may lead to anxiety, stress or sensory overload - whether that is at home, at school, or on-the-move," say its makers.

The Squease Vest is available online for £245 (around US$380) and with the Squease Jacket for £295 ($457). While the hooded top is currently available in blue or grey color schemes, different styles will be on offer later in the year.

Source: Squease Wear via Daily Mail

Here's a quick video explaining how the Squease Vest works and the problems some Autism sufferers experience.

About the Author
Simon Crisp Simon is a journalist and photographer who has spent the last ten years working for national UK newspapers - but has never hacked a mobile phone - and specializes in writing about weird products and photography technology. When not writing for Gizmag, Simon is often found playing with LEGO and drinking far too much coffee.   All articles by Simon Crisp
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7 Comments

So the idea is to cure the problem of anxiety in autistic kids by essentially making them wear a uniform?

AngryPenguin
11th June, 2012 @ 08:34 pm PDT

Genius idea. Temple Grandin uses a cow squeeze but that's simply too big to carry around.

Sam Sim
12th June, 2012 @ 03:32 am PDT

@Angry Penguin: I think this is the opposite based on the article. Previous solutions required a bulky clearly visible device or blanket to provide the pressure that alleviates the overload. This vest looks like a good step toward something like a descreet undergarment like hernia sufferers use for support. You will not be able to wear it with form fitting cloths but looser fashions should conceal it fairly well.

@Sam Sim: I saw a special on that machine where the young woman who invented it was describing how she came up with the idea. If this vest can deliver simmilar performance then I'd say it's a very good thing for those with autism.

VirtualGathis
12th June, 2012 @ 05:44 am PDT

Brilliant idea. This is a life changer.

Doug Johnson
12th June, 2012 @ 12:13 pm PDT

This seems to be a good thing for people with Autism and Asperger diagnosis. As stated on the companys home page. "I was greatly calmed by pressure. As a child, I constantly wanted to be hugged, but I was terrified of being touched by someone." This is precisely the problem many Autism sufferers have with physical contact, and they may use anything that can give pressure to feel safe.

As a tip to those who think the price of this vest is too high and want to test if this has a positive effect first I would suggest to try a girdle or other shapewear with hold-in effect. I know several persons with diagnoses in the Autism spectrum who have found those garments to be of help. And they are made for both female and male nowadays.

Roffen
13th June, 2012 @ 04:37 pm PDT

@VirtualGathis

It is a huge mistake to assume all autistic kids will react the same way.

I have first-hand experience with autistic people (particularly asperger's) both at work and in my personal life. Some of them just don't like to be reminded of it, either because they consider it a) an insult,

b)a burden (you try having to explain to people that 'yes, I'm okay with shaking hands, no, I won't go catatonic if you hug me' etc.), or

c)they just don't like having everything they do judged and defined based on where they fall on the autism spectrum.

AngryPenguin
15th June, 2012 @ 10:35 pm PDT

Hello Penguin.

As is mentioned in the first line in this article: "Autism sufferers can often experience high levels of anxiety caused by sensory overload". Maybe they should stress the word "can" a bit more, people with an Autism diagnosis are just as different as those who are neurotypical, but for many this vest can be of help. Even self-hugging may help, if that is enough of a squeeze. Or maybe a quiet hour in a safe corner. And many Aspergers can learn ways of handling their problems, we are not without intellect you know. :-) And yes, I do have a diagnosis in that spectrum somewhere.

As for the three things mentioned above:

A: An insult, well personally I don't have any problem with it, and I don't think many in the group i am associated with do either. I think many of us learn to accept it.

B: A burden. Yes it is, but again, you learn ways of handling it and communicating the problem. At least often..

C: Reminding. I personally find it tiresome to all the time having to judge my reactions as to what is behind them, Asperger or not. But that work gives the benefit of managing social situations better. Although an evening, say a birthday, often is so mentally tiresome it gives a quiet time the day after..

And as a reference to the first line in your comment, I definitely dislike to be put in a box as if all Aspergers/Autism sufferers are alike and therefore should like being together with fellow Aspergers. In fact two Aspergers may no get on very good with each other, although we may understand each others reactions..

But all this was a digression, the point of the article was this west, and I do think it can be of help to some Autism sufferers, although I have a feeling many will forget to put it on in advance when they are going somewhere. I also fear it will be to cumbersome to wear, two layers of pressure resistant material will probably have some weight, and what about the breathing capabilities of this material? If you become hot and sweaty that is no particular comfort either.. And that bulb may be hard to hide in a pocket.

A compression vest made of spandex with adjustable velcro fastening may be just as good an idea..

Well, life isn't a rose garden for many of us, Autism or not.. :-)

Roffen
19th June, 2012 @ 05:15 am PDT
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