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Using compression shirts for deep pressure to help autistic children

What is compression therapy?

Sometimes medical conditions can completely alter our mental state.  When children suffer from autism spectrum disorder it can cause trauma much easier compared to those who don’t have the developmental disability.  Compression clothing provides therapy to these children or anyone with the spectrum disorder. 

Compression therapy can be beneficial for helping increase blood flow around the entire body and get blood to extremities especially to legs and the ankles and feet.  Many medical conditions can cause people to have poor circulation.  While mental health issues such as autism can benefit from better circulation also, they can feel more comforted by a compression garment when they near a loud noise, aren’t feeling comfortable in their own body, or are in an environment that causes stress and so on.

How is compression clothing used for your autistic child?

These kinds of garments are in place on the body and act like a form of massage therapy.  The only difference is, it is a very low level for the child to feel more at ease in each stressful situation that happens. The clothing can also help with tiredness, sore and achy muscles and can address blood flow issues. The clothing shouldn’t be used constantly so it can be helpful in different situations like a situation at school that might cause panic in the autistic child.  This way, it is only used for these situations and doesn’t lose its effect.

Autistic children like clothing to be:

  • Snug fit
  • Usually long sleeved
  • Provides sense of security
  • Comfortable
  • Soft (Not too soft though)
  • Tags or other contraptions on clothing are bothersome

Fabrics for autistic children:

  • Brushed cotton
  • Combed cotton
  • Stay away from blended materials
  • Anything that keeps them overly warm (For example: synthetic materials)
  • Items that are more breathable

Compression therapy devices—not just shirts and other clothing

Compression therapy doesn’t just include clothing.  There are many different devices that can be purchased in addition to clothing such as shirts and pants.  These can be stockings, bandages, inflatable devices. Most of these are used in sports or for other medical conditions however some of them could be beneficial for your autistic child in addition to compression clothing.

How much pressure does the therapy provide?

Generally, compression shirts aren’t prescriptions.  These are over the counter clothing that help with situations where your autistic child might be in a panic or afraid.  They are all low level pressure that help your child feel more comfortable.  Other than regular compression shirts, there are compression vests that are bulkier but again, these are low level basic pressure.

Only items in the pharmacy or pharmaceutical equipment stores might offer certain compression devices that require a prescription.  For example there are compression stocking that might be 20mmHg or higher that would require a doctor’s prescription.  Compression weight means, millimeters of mercury.

How long should children with autism use compression shirts for?

Children with autism should wear compression shirts or vests no more than about an hour. It should be based on sensitivity of the activity they are about to be involved with.  Sometimes vests are even more helpful if the child needs the help several times a day so it could go on and off regular clothing quicker. Again, talk to your primary care doctor or specialist for more advice, if needed.

Sensations for autistic children and children with hypersensitivities

While autism usually causes a child to be hypersensitive or over-reactive—just because someone has severe sensitivity to clothing or a certain noise doesn’t mean they are autistic. Skin sensitivities can be quite common for children and those who have lighter complexions can be more susceptible to feeling strange or having an issue with different kinds of fabric that are rougher.  Or sometimes a tag can be very irritating and make them always want tag less clothing, which is of course a quick fix.

These kinds of sensitivities don’t happen in every child.  Babies are more sensitive because their skin isn’t fully developed, which is why they can develop rashes or eczema more easily.

Clothing options for your autistic child and compression vests

If you have an autistic child, you will want a variety of options for clothing that are more geared for them and how their behavior isn’t like the average child.  While you can buy from a variety of autistic and sensory kids clothing brands, other than using compression clothing you should consider having a special weighted compression vest.  This way you can have it easily on and off of your child.  This vest helps more in settings with other children, when you aren’t there.  But, it of course can also be used at home for certain situations. 

Have your autistic child only wear the vest for certain problematic situations for them.  Only use it 15 to 20 minutes at a time.  Using it too long doesn’t make it a long term option and tool for areas throughout the day that might over stimulate your child and cause more anxiety.  You want it to be a tool that works when you need it—so limiting its use to only those special needed times is essential.

Compression vests and clothing can help autistic children be more aware of their body and feel comfortable in situations that upset them.  Anything that could heighten emotions—noises, other people around they don’t know, being in public and almost any setting that they need to feel more at ease could benefit from compression shirts or vests. The objective of this kind of clothing is to limit them from melting down into a panic mode, which autistic children can easily slip into.

Reasons for children with autism to wear compression clothing—forms of deep pressure

  • Need more attention
  • Love hugs and need the tactile support
  • Provides comfort
  • Can help in new or unfamiliar situations
  • Provides more circulatory support
  • Fully covering arms and legs

Compression clothing can be quite helpful for autistic children

Anyone with generalized anxiety can also benefit from wearing a compression shirt or vest.  This is for helping you to calm your nervous system and ease for any situation. Compression clothing can also be helpful for people who have panic disorders or who suffer from PTSD and generalized anxiety. Many people already have situations they avoid because of panic or anxiety they might develop. 

Instead of medications being an only tactic to rid of panic and anxiety, Esteem Apparel and other brands offer various kinds of compression clothing.  It is an easy way to get support through difficult situations or environments that are very bothersome. For example—maybe you have problems getting on an airplane or going to doctors’ office—anything that causes more trauma or an anxiety attack to happen can be lessened by using a compression shirt or vest or another kind of compression clothing option or device.

Consider having more sensory clothing options for your autistic child

If you need more than a compression shirt for your autistic child you should consider companies that have more appealing clothing for them.  There are many sensory brands out there that can keep your autistic child happy and feeling at ease.  Some popular brands include: Soft Clothing, Smart Knit Kids, Fun and Function and No Netz.