Easy Low-Budget DIY Sensory Vest

I have several students on my caseload that have big time sensory needs. Both of our children, 6 & 3, are also a little funky when it comes to sensory input. Our 3-year-old son is a sensory seeker, which in layman's terms means he's "on the go" or "all boy" as my grandmother likes to say!

One of the best strategies I've found to help kids be the "boss of their body" as I say in school a lot is to use what's called a hug vest. Somewhat similar to a weighted vest, the hug vest provides great proprioceptive (deep pressure) input to a child's body - kind of like a big, continuous bear hug! Proprioceptive input is very organizing for the brain and nervous system, which in turn helps children slow down their bodies and get them under control (hence "boss of your body"!).

While the hug vest has been a great tool for me and for many of the children I see, it's not always the most economical choice. The cost for a hug vest can range anywhere from $45 to $100 and up! So I decided to go on a search to see what I could find to make my own. Originally I was thinking about using a lumbar support brace, but the stores in my rural town didn't really have what I was hoping for. But, I was able to find some great alternatives in the fitness section at WalMart!

Let's see below:

 1. This waist trimmer is made of neoprene material - perfect to simulate the piece of the hug vest that wraps around the trunk. For $5, that's a no-brainer!
 2. The thigh slimmers, also made of neoprene - but slightly thinner, are a perfect simulation for the shoulder straps once cut down the middle. These come two for $10 in a box. Again, score!
 3. Here's a terrible picture of the thigh slimmer cut length-wise to make the shoulder straps.
 4. Here's our son Noah, the sensory seeker, modeling the final product. Notice that the straps are criss-crossed and then tucked under the first layer of the trunk wrap. No need to sew additional velcro to secure! Two points for that!
 5. A view from the back. Again, terrible pic!

And how did Noah like the final product?

He was totally digging his "work vest" and was a new kid! No more climbing on tables, running around the house, throwing things for the heck of it. I think that's why I love sensory strategies - they truly help bring out the best in kids!

Do you have any DIY sensory strategies that you find helpful? What are the tools you use the most for kids with sensory needs? Definitely shout the out in the comments. The more tricks we have in our sensory bags, the better we're able to help kids be the "boss of their bodies"!

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  1. What a great idea! My daughter never needed one, although she was a sensory seeker, but I know several kids who do and they could totally benefit. So smart! OTs are so creative!

    Thanks for coming by my blog! I am really glad we have connected, too!

  2. Thanks Jaime! So you can obviously relate to the sensory seekers...I'm one, too! And hypersensitive to auditory & tactile stimuli. I've passed my quirks on to my kids, though not all quirks to each kid (thank goodness!). Sharing the joy...

    How is your daughter with sensory input now? I think you said she's 10, right?

  3. I headed to Walmart right now! I pray that this works! Thank you!


    1. took the words right out of my mouth. :) Please God let this work. I'm losing my mind with my sons wild behavior and many parent sheets to sign when picking him up from childcare. :(

  4. Hello! This is a great tutorial. I wish i had seen it sooner. My mom is an OT and asked me to make a vest for her to use in therapy sessions.
    My concern is that the company whose vest I made a pattern from could sue me. Is this possible?
    I have not yet givem it to her. I did change a bit of the sewing technique to make mine actually more sturdy and cleaner looking than the one her clinic actually bought (for $65.00!!!).
    Thanks in advance. 😊
    Keep creating.