As with the autism-insurance post -- it's been a while since I've done one of these!
I'm really excited about a new goodie that has come into my sensory-seeking daughter's life lately.
I posted briefly at one point about Joy's home-concocted weighted vest. Unfortunately I never posted a photo, and now it's been disassembled and discarded, alas! But I'll re-describe it, and then tell you about the newer-and-better version.
Foy Joy, a weighted vest helps give her some of the sensory input she so seems to crave. While she's wearing it, it seems to help her get to a place of being calmer and more focused. The theory would have it that the effect should last after the vest is removed, which doesn't actually seem to be the case with Joy. (If you've seen one person with sensory issues, you've seen one person with sensory issues!) Here's a page with a little more information on weighted vests.
Commercial weighted vests can get pretty expensive, and so one of Joy's occupational therapists set her up with a homemade vest based on one of those swim vests with removeable floats. Looked kind of like a pink barrel. Take all the floaties out, replace with weights, and there you go! Add as much or little weight as you need, in consultation with your OT. Weights can be bags of rice or beans or fishing weights or shot, either plastic baggies swathed in duct tape or homemade cloth beanbags. Since they're removable, you don't have to worry if the weights can be gotten wet in the wash. We even added weight with a couple of duct-taped door-hinges!
The floaty/weighted vest worked well but had some disadvantages. First, it was obviously not a standard piece of clothing (see barrel comment above), so it sets the wearer apart and people do tend to gawp or ask questions. Second, it was made of polyester-ish material, liable to snags and runs. The weights in particular tended to poke out of their pockets eventually.
Our new improved replacement is a kiddie fly-fishing vest from L.L. Bean! We have to credit Joy's kindergarten staff for introducing us to this. Price is $34.
The vest is breatheable and durable, woven cotton instead of the snaggy knit. It looks like a real garment, and comes in khaki or pale blue or pink. It has rings on the front to clip chewies on, and one in the back for a caregiver to grab. It has a clip over the zipper in front to keep the vest on. And, it has pockets all over the front for weights, plus a big flat zippered pocket for weight in the back!
We're using the weights from the old vest. It's working out really well so far. This one's a hit.
[Update: I just remembered a post from Both Hands & a Flashlight a while back, about their adventures in homemade weighted vests, that you might want to peek at as well.]
Another hit with Joy, in general and specifically, is keys. Real keys, none of your plastic fakes, thank-you-very-much. She loves to handle them, clink them, carry them around, stim on them. Mama's ring of keys is the ultimate prize -- Mama's got to be very careful not to bring out the keys when Joy might request them and have to be told no, or great unhappiness ensues.
So, we've come up with a replacement.
These are keys from the hardware store. They're "mis-keys" -- keys that got flubbed up in the process of cutting and had to be discarded.
Different hardware stores have different policies with mis-keys. One store near here cheerfully gave us a whole handful for free. Another said sorry, but they return them to the manufacturer for some sort of refund. Yet a third tosses all their mis-keys and metal shavings into a big ol' bucket that you can dig through and choose the keys you want for twenty-five cents a pop.
The ring of keys pictured above is connected to a mega-chewelry bracelet from National Autism Resources. I'd initially bought a cheapo curly-bracelet keychain at the hardware store, but when Joy started chewing on it, the teeth marks stayed and the bracelet got deformed very quickly. The real thing is worth the extra money.
We've also recently acquired a ChewEase Clip-on Chewy Tube from National Autism Resources. The product has a plastic clip at one end, attached to a chewelry-type coil with a key-ring and a chewy-tube at the other end. Yes, I did say "key-ring." You could see how this product might work together with our keys obsession...
Just be careful to track the keys when your kiddo is carrying them about. We've lost two sets on the prairie, one because she dropped them when I wasn't looking, the other because I apparently hadn't fully joined Joy's key-ring to the ChewEase key ring and it wiggled off. I do hope that, if anybody found them, they didn't knock themselves out trying to find the poor soul who's been locked out of a non-existent home & office & car!