Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities has published a research article on the effects of weighted vests on the engagement of children with developmental delays and autism. Three participants (who had previously worn weighted vests) were observed in three different conditions - no vest, vest with no weight and vest with 5% of body weight. Data was collected using videotapes of the different conditions and the effects on engagement and behaviors. The results indicated that the weighted vest did not change engagement or behaviors.
The authors state that the limited number of participants was a significant limitation of this study. The researchers recommend further research to determine the proper amount of weight to be added to a weighted vest for there are no standard guidelines.
What percentage of body weight do you recommend for weighted vests? Do you collect data on whether the weighted vest is benefiting the child? Scary to me that the use of weighted vests are common practice and there is very limited research to back it all up.
Reference: Brian Reichow, Erin E. Barton, Joanna Neely Sewell, Leslie Good, and Mark Wolery Effects of Weighted Vests on the Engagement of Children With Developmental Delays and Autism Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities 2010 25: 3-11