The OTvest Provides Calming Deep Pressure Therapy for Sensory Processing Disorder (Sensory Modulation Disorder, Sensory Integration Disorder).

How does wearing a weighted vest like OTvest™ help those with a sensory processing disorder? "It feels good!" and when we feel better, we do better! That’s exactly what we see in people who are wearing the OTvest™.

Unlike other weighted vests on the market, the OTvest™ is a revolutionary weighted vest that utilizes dense steel weights to apply deep pressure touch therapy in the shoulder-girdle area of the wearer. This design stabilizes the trunk more effectively than other weighted vests or weighted blankets on the market, who typically only hang weights inside pockets.OTvest-black_girl_in_vest

The OTvest™ is a simple, non-invasive intervention that is beneficial in a multitude of conditions. Kim Grosline's letter on the testimonials page explains the experience wearing the OTvest™ had for her son -- and for others with sensory processing disorders, including those with autism and ADHD.

“My son started second grade crying everyday. He had seen a Pediatrician, a Medical Social Worker, a Psychologist and the school counselor. He was also seeing a therapist every other week. No one could help him. No one could tell me what was wrong and how to make the school day easier for my son. Then, on my own, I decided to meet with the most amazing Occupational Therapist. After four and a half months of my son crying everyday and getting phone calls from his teacher telling me she just doesn’t know what to do for him but that he can’t come to school crying everyday, we received an OTvest™. The change we have seen in the few short weeks we have had the OTvest™ is just astounding. He no longer cries in school. Bedtime is awesome now. I am thankful to have such an amazing tool. I felt pressured by all the doctors to put my son on medication. I am happy to say he will not be put on medication as the OTvest™ does the trick.” Kimberly Gorsline, son with sensory processing disorder, January 25, 2016. This mom provides a further update and can be read on the Testimonial page.

How does the OTvest help children with sensory processing disorder? With science!

Just as runners say that running gives them a “natural high” because of the increase in dopamine in their brain, deep pressure changes the chemistry in our brains and can create a calming, focusing effect through the increase in neurotransmitters that deep pressure touch therapy stimulates. Use of the OTvest™ offers a holistic treatment option for those experiencing sensory processing disorder, sensory modulation disorder, and sensory integration disorder.

Nancy VandenBerg, an occupational therapist since 1975 and creator of the OTvest™, saw that 1 out of 10 children in a school where she provided OT services were going to the office for “attention medication”. She did a research study within the school system to determine if there was an “alternative to medication” method of improving their attention, which was published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy (VandenBerg, 2001). The children in the study were diagnosed as having attention difficulties in school. They were timed while wearing a weighted vest and while not wearing a weighted vest, the same time of day in the classroom, engaged in the same type of activity, measuring their attention-to-task.

OTvest-Boy_smiling_for_haircutThe children in the study showed an 18-25% increase in their attention when wearing a weighted vest (weight of 5% of the wearer’s body weight) compared to not wearing one. The study showed a 95% statistical probability that the increase was due to the weighted vest. These exciting results prompted Ms. VandenBerg to design a “better” weighted vest—the OTvest™—where the weight was positioned to lie directly upon the body instead of in pockets, as is the case with other weighted vests or weighted blankets. The OTvest™ applies calming deep pressure therapy directly to the body of the wearer, where it can have the most effective impact on the sensory receptors in the body.

Those with a sensory processing disorder may experience difficulty with a number of experiences in daily life, including:

  • Hypersensitivity to movement
    • Getting dizzy upon continuous spinning
    • Always having to be moving
  • Hyposensitivity to movement
    • Avoiding escalators
    • Being fearful going up steps, such as on a bus
    • Only wanting to participate in sedentary activities

The OTvest™, a deep pressure compression vest, can help with body awareness because of the proprioceptive feedback sent to the brain as joint compression occurs, thus making one more comfortable with movement. This also allows OTvest™ to help gently, naturally treat anxiety, if movement is a cause of anxiety or stress for the wearer.

  • Hypersensitivity to touch
    • Avoiding touch from others
    • Inability to stand close to others, such as waiting in line
    • Strong reaction to tags in clothing
    • Strong sensitivity to the feeling of fabrics
    • Walking on tiptoe to avoid touching the floor
    • Aversion to haircuts, or having teeth brushed
    • Strong reaction to textures of food, or things on hands
  • Hyposensitivity to touch
    • Craving touch
    • Having to touch everything
    • Not feeling touch unless with excessive force
    • Strong preference for roughhousing
    • Accidentally hurting pets or others, due to the inability to gauge strength of touch
    • May prefer messy play
  • Poor coordination so that gross and/or fine motor skills are not appropriate for age level
    • Difficulty writing, coloring, cutting
    • Difficulty buttoning jackets, coats, shirts
    • Difficulty catching a ball, jumping, climbing stairs
  • Over response or under response to sounds, smells, and visual input
    • Inability to find a specific item amongst other objects
    • Inability to see a word on a page of other sentences or pictures
    • Inability to concentrate when there are background noises
    • Insatiable need to smell objects
    • Inability to tolerate household or cooking smells

The weighted OTvest™, a way to help naturally treat anxiety, produces a sense of calm, and can reduce the stress associated with external stimulus and help increase visual attention-to-task (functional activity).

  • Problems with self-regulation
    • Difficulty calming oneself
    • Unable to fall asleep by oneself
    • Great difficulty to wake from sleep
    • Inability to adapt to daily changes in environment
    • Easily overwhelmed

The use of the OTvest™ denim weighted vest can help improve self-regulation as one learns what true calmness and focus feels like. As a way to help naturally treat ADHD, the OTvest™ can allow the wearer to better learn to self regulate or modulate one's own arousal level.

  • Difficulty with language
    • Unable to put thoughts into words
    • Unable to follow the sequence of directions
    • Difficulty locating where someone is when they are calling their name

For those with sensory processing disorders, language can be a daunting daily hurdle. As a natural treatment option, and alternative treatment for sensory processing disorders, the OTvest™ can help reduce the stress and overwhelming feeling that language impairment can create, thus increasing focus for improved function.

Here is a photo of Josh, a third-grader, who cannot handle thunderstorms due to the over-responsiveness to sounds, and difficulty with self-regulation. He is able to calm himself when he puts on the OTvest™ and headphones. Josh still feels the vibration from the thunder, but the OTvest™ and headphones eliminate his otherwise, out-of-control behavior.

The OTvest™ can help treat sensory processing disorder, naturally, non-invasively, and allow the wearer to finally Feel Good!


Ayres, A. J. (1972). Sensory integration and learning disorders. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.

Grandin, T. (1992). Calming effects of deep touch pressure in patients with autistic disorder, college students, and animals, Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, Vol. 2, 1.

VandenBerg, N. (2001). The use of weighted vests to increase on-task behavior in children with attention difficulties, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, Vol. 55, 621-628. doi:10.5014/ajot.55.6.621

This research is also in the book, Pediatric Issues in Occupational Therapy: A Compendium of Leading Scholarship (Royeen, 2004) published by AOTA (N. VandenBerg, Chapter 25.)

The Star Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder lists the OTvest as a sensory strategy