Snug Vest

Snug Vest has a new CEO!



The Snug Vest team is growing and we're excited to announce Snug Vest's new CEO, Darren Burke.                                          

Darren Burke holds a Doctorate in Exercise Physiology, and worked for 10-years as a tenured professor in Halifax, NS before he began RIVALUS, a socially responsible sports nutrition company.

He's one seriously smart and driven individual! 




"The number of lives we can bring positive affect to is immense. I look forward to working with the Snug Vest team, company stakeholders, and Snug Vest community as we continue to create compassionate innovation.”

- Darren Burke


Our founder, Lisa will work with us in a new role as Chief Innovation Officer and she will continue to be the face of Snug Vest. 

She's extremely excited to return to her passion for design and creating further innovations to improve the quality of life of those with autism spectrum disorders and other conditions. 


For more information please refer to our press release

See Why This 9 Year Old Loves His Pressure Vest [Video]

Rishi is a 9 year old boy from Vancouver, Canada.

He was diagnosed with autism and he
absolutely LOVES the periodic table
of elements and anything about outer space!


A lot of times, Rishi gets anxious & frustrated
to the point that it manifests into anger.

It’s hard for him to remember how to deal
with anxiety in the moment that he gets
very upset.

His mom thought an inflatable pressure
vest like Snug Vest could help him. 


When he says “Im so upset and I don’t know what to do," his mom gives him his Snug Vest and the results are IMMEDIATE!
- He sits on the couch, stops shouting and gets
back to his science books!


His mom loves that Snug Vest looks like a regular sports vest.
(Rishi’s Snug Vest is so stylish that his younger
neurotypical brother wants a Snug Vest too!)

And Rishi considers it to be a hug!


Watch the Rishi's Story video below:


From a Woman's Leather Jacket to a Snug Vest!

Danny is a teenager from California on

the autism spectrum.


When Danny would get anxious, he would have

meltdowns and self-injurious behaviors.

His dad would call these “episodes.”

Every morning, Danny’s father would provide him with

firm hugs to help get rid of stress that caused these episodes.

Danny would wear a woman's leather jacket

AND even blood pressure cuffs on his arms to

get the deep pressure he needed!


Danny's dad was hoping Snug Vest could

help alleviate some of Danny’s pain and suffering.

So, he reached out to our founder Lisa while she was

developing Snug Vest. 

After getting a Snug Vest, Danny’s dad told a newspaper reporter:

We’ve used it at home and used it when we take Danny out in the world with us, maybe when we go out to a restaurant, and the results are phenomenal. It calms him down, it comforts him. It’s very fast-acting. He pumps it up and he feels good."


How's Danny doing today with his Snug Vest?



Danny wears his Snug Vest to school every morning. He puts it on right before he goes out the door - it helps with the dancing around, hand waving and vocalizations that accompany the transition.  


Danny is making progress in school and is well-liked by those around him. He also got an award for his 3.5+ average! Way to go Danny!

If it wasn't for Danny and his father giving us feedback about the vest in those early days, we wouldn't have such an amazing pressure vest today.

Snug Vest is now helping thousands of families live with autism, sensory, and anxiety issues.

It's won multiple awards, but the best award of all - moms and dads love this vest!

If you're ready to help your child overcome anxiety and sensory

issues, give the award-winning pressure vest Snug Vest a go!



Young Man with Autism Using Snug Vest to Overcome Anxiety and Become a Firefighter [Video]


This is a story about how one young man is using Snug Vest to achieve his goals. 

Chris is a 23 year old on the autism spectrum with many virtues. 

He loves playing hockey as it provides him with deep pressure feedback.

Unfortunately, like many others on the spectrum, Chris suffers from anxiety, meltdowns, and temper tantrums, and finds social cues extremely challenging. 

To help with his anxiety, Chris would wear a full-body sensory wrap to provide him with the deep pressure needed to help reduce his overwhelming anxiety.

Now, instead of a sensory wrap, Chris uses his Snug Vest everyday.

It’s a stylish vest that he can inflate to the pressure that he wants. It inflates to feel like a hug! Now Chris doesn’t have to worry about standing out from the crowd in his sensory wrap. Whenever he feels an anxiety issue coming, he will put on the Snug Vest to help him relax.

He says the Snug Vest is helping him become more present and stay calm in high stress situations. This is important now that Chris is training to become a firefighter.

To this day, Chris sends emails to the Snug Vest team with updates and he shares messages about how much he loves his Snug Vest!  


Check out this short video of Chris' story below:


How Health Care Professionals Can Help People on the Autism Spectrum

autism health care professionals



The following blog post was submitted by Elizabeth and was originally published on

A reader recently sent me a question about meltdowns. Mary, a health care professional, shared that one of her patients had experienced a meltdown while she was working with him and she wanted to know what she could have done to help.

Moreover, she was worried that she had somehow contributed to it.


Meltdowns stem from overload. Meltdowns are different than temper tantrums because they are generally triggered by something – sensory, transitions, or anxiety, for example – and reflect an emotional overload response.

They can appear to take place without warning (because others are not aware of the emotional build-up prior to the meltdown), and can be violent, and long-lasting.

In the situation described by Mary, the overload could have been from something touching her patient that made him uncomfortable; a persistent unfamiliar sound that we might not pay attention to; a strong smell (maybe an antiseptic cleanser) that we might ignore; his not knowing what to expect next in an unusual situation; difficulty in being responsive to someone he didn't know; or some or all of those things combined at the end of a long day.

After explaining to Mary that there was likely nothing she could had done to end the meltdown, other than first ask how she could help (which she did), and then quietly support both the child and parent while the meltdown lasted (which she also did), I suggested that there were things she could do for her patients on the Autism spectrum to help prevent meltdowns.

For example, a visit to the office before the appointment day might be very helpful to instil familiarity before the date of the exam appointment.


Other suggestions included:


  • Scheduling appointments for patients on the spectrum for times when there are no other people in the waiting room;
  • Not keeping the patient waiting, even for a short period of time - if there is paperwork to be done, have it done via mail or email before hand;
  • Staff being thoughtful of their sensory impact while the spectrum patient is there - being aware of the sounds they are making, their movement, the smell of food they just microwaved, wearing perfumes, etc.; and
  • Reducing or eliminating fluorescent lighting (the flickering and hum can be aggravating) - maybe adding some incandescent or LED lamps available to be turned on when Autism spectrum patients were there.


After the patient is brought into the exam room, the health care professional can:


  • Explain the exam in detail before starting - let the patient explore the room, touch things (as appropriate), and ask questions;
  • Ask the patient or parent ahead of time what comforts the them (I used to have my son sit in my lap for eye exams to reassure him; at the dentist we sometimes use the lead apron for x-rays as a weighted blanket during exams). Invite them to bring comfort tools and to use them;
  • Take your time - some people on the spectrum can sense impatience or being rushed, and it can add to the overload;
  • Ask the patient how they are doing and if they have any questions. Don't be dissuaded if the patient isn't verbal - many non-verbal people on the spectrum can still communicate very clearly; and
  • Wait for an answer - use the 8 second rule to allow the patient a chance to engage the speech centers of the brain.


The patient may stim to help manage feelings - this is an important self-management tool, don't stop them from doing it.

If the stimming interferes with the exam, ask if you can trade off - a few minutes of stimming, then a few minutes of exam, then a few minutes of stimming, etc. This cooperative understanding might even reduce the need to stim.

I strongly suggest reaching out to adult patients on the autism spectrum and asking for their advice on how to make their health care appointments more Autism-friendly.

Other health care professionals who specialize in serving patients on the autism spectrum can also be a resource to learn how they structure their practices, set up their offices, and generally support their patients.


Elizabeth W. Barnes runs and is the mom to a wonderful boy on the Autism spectrum.

Autism Mom is about how author Elizabeth came to discover and learned to support her autistic son, who she refers to on the blog as the Navigator. While everyone’s path is different, this blogger hopes her writing will be useful to families with children on the spectrum.

Special Needs Families Should Never Struggle Alone


The following guest blog post was submitted by Teresa Cooper of


Sometimes it takes a trigger event to realize that you have just fought too long for what your child needs. I have gone along thinking that I’m okay because things happened in the past and they’re in the past. Now, though, going over all the struggles we’ve had this year, the frustrations, the lack of crisis intervention, and the unforgettable advice from a mobile crisis unit who never even sent anyone to our house has left me, once again, alone and raw with emotion.

Knowing I’m Not Alone Doesn’t Help

After talking to other parents, I know I am not alone and that other parents experience the same things we do. However, the affirmation from other parents in the same situation just makes me more angry than glad that I’m not alone. While I realize that we’re not in a big city with lots of resources, we’re not in a low-income developing country either. Everyone should know what autism is by now. At the very least, everyone should know that not all children are the same. Awareness is not enough. Acceptance? Where’s that? How can daycare after daycare fail to train their staff to better manage children like mine? How are families like ours supposed to hold jobs and take care of our children?


How Did This Become an Unsolvable Issue?

The summer is so much better for us because I don't have the additional stress of not knowing when I’m going to get a phone call from someone to come pick up my child while I’m at work.

Since I know what my child needs, we just don’t have issues at home with violent behaviors. I’m relieved and glad to be able to take a big, long, deep breath during the summer, but when it came time to return to work, I still had no answers about childcare for my son.

If I could clone myself so I could exist in two places at once to help de-escalate my child or be there in the moment to help them figure it out, I would. Science hasn’t come quite that far. I know people say it’s best to stay in the present, but I also recognize that aside from the fact that I think about things constantly and try to fix and solve problems before they happen, I knew this was an issue that I alone had to figure out.

Ultimately, we wound up finding our own support person for my son until Easter Seals finally put together a fantastic after-school program that fits the needs of children with autism and all sorts of disabilities.


Would You Want this for YOUR Family?

Listen, whoever is out there reading this right now. Listen as though I am speaking to you in person. Pretend you’re seeing a real family (because we are one) and then pretend that this family is yours.

What would you do?

Would you keep doing the same thing?

The same thing that doesn’t work? The same thing that resulted in your family breaking down and calling a mobile crisis unit and in response to the question of “what should I do,” being told that “your guess is as good as mine?”

Do those words come from a person who cares? Who wants to help? And after being told that you need to just handle the situation yourself, do you ever bother to reach out for help again? Think about that. Sit with it. Mull it over.

The next time your child, who doesn’t have access to a developmental therapist because the one place that has such a person is either (a) too far away or (b) not accepting new patients, puts holes in the walls, injures himself to the point of bleeding, or hurts other people, would you trust the mental health system that gives you such sage advice?

If your answer is “no” then you, person who helps make policies in this state, you fix it. Because as families, we can contact legislators (I have) and we can get medication (we have), and we can receive the services available to us (we do), but none of those things help when we do it alone, and no other voice stands up to say that this isn’t working.

Our children need more advocates than just one or two families alone shouting at nothing (which is what it feels like sometimes). Our children need the voice of communities rising up to make a change for the better.


Teresa Cooper is a 30-something wife, mom and teacher from Havelock, North Carolina. While she is currently on her way to a Master of Science in Education from Walden University, she has a BA in Psychology with a minor in Creative from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Having struggled with anxiety and depression most of her life and later having birthed a child with autism, she is passionate about spreading awareness and acceptance of mental illness and autism, and has been writing for Embracing the Spectrum since 2011. She also writes for The Mighty, The Huffington Post, and The Educator’s Room.

Winter Sensory Activities and Ideas


Start off the New Year on the right foot with engaging winter-themed sensory ideas!

During these long winter months, it can be easy to forget about sensory activities, outdoor exercise and deep pressure input. Give these sensory activities and gross motor activities a try. 


Sensory Ideas:

Snow cones: Add your child's favorite flavoring to shaved ice for a tasty cold snow cone. 

Snow angels: If you live in a place with snow, take your child out to make snow angels! 

Ice bucket: Fill a bucket with ice cubes (or snow) and hide a few toys. Have your child try to find all the toys. If you really want to make it a challenge, set up a timer and have your child find all the toys before time runs out. 

Frozen Scavenger Hunt: Freeze a few mini-toys (such as Lego people) in ice cube trays. Hide the frozen toys around the yard and have your child find the frozen toys. If your child finds the toys before they melt, throw the ice toys into a bucket of hot water and watch the ice melt away. 


Pre-writing (fine) motor activities:

Beach day in the snow: Bring your beach toys (buckets, shovels) and make snow castles in the snow!

Painting snow: Pack some snow into a tray and have your child add water colors with paint brushes. 

Make snow balls: Have your child make a pack of snow balls of different sizes. 


Movement (gross motor) activities:

Shapes in the snow: Have the child make words, letters, or shapes in the snow by shuffling boots in the snow. 

Shovel snow: Take out a child-friendly shovel and start shoveling snow. 

Buried Treasure: Bury a treasure box in the snow and watch it re-appear once the snow melts away. 

Giant snowball: Make a giant snowball and keep rolling it along with the help of a group. 


How do you help your child work on movement and motor activities in the winter? Share in the comments below!

Autism-Friendly Holiday Recipes

Many children on on the autism spectrum have special diets. Here are 3 holiday recipes you can all enjoy during the holidays. Give them a try!


Christmas Chocolate Cookies

Try making this wheat-free, egg-free and milk-free recipe. You'll need some holiday-themed cookie cutters to make Christmas-themed chocolate cookies. 

  • 2 teaspoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 cup coconut oil 
  • 2 1/4 cups GFCF flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon corn-free baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 2 ounces of melted chocolate (check to make sure the chocolate is milk-free)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend oil and water with 1 teaspoon of baking powder and set aside. Mix arrowroot powder, salt, baking powder, and GFCF flour. In a separate bowl, cream the margarine and sugar and add in the oil, water and baking powder mix. Slowly blend in the flour mix and add the chocolate. Roll the cookie dough and use Christmas-themed cookie cutters to make your favorite shapes! Add cookies onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cookies cool for a few minutes. 


GFCF Mashed Potatoes for Holiday Dinners

This is a great substitute recipe for regular mashed potatoes using CF margarine and rice milk!

  • Yukon gold or white potatoes (not russet popatoes) 
  • chopped onions
  • GFCF margarine
  • Unflavored rice milk 
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Peel and cut potatoes. Add potatoes to a pot with the chopped onions and cover with cold water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Heat until boiling and cook potatoes until soft. Drain the water and whip the potatoes. Add in CF margarine. Add heated rice milk to potatoes until it reaches your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.  


GFCF Gravy  

Try this GFCF gravy recipe if you're making turkey for the holidays. 

  • 1/4 pound of CF margarine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup GFCF flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups of heated Defatted turkey drippings and chicken stock

Add margarine and cook onions over medium-low heat in a large pan until the onions are lightly browned. Add sprinkles of flour to the pan and add salt and pepper. Allow this to cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the heated chicken stock mix and cook in the uncovered pan for 4 to 5 minutes until thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.




Sensory Bin Fun for Christmas and Winter Holidays!

Here’s a roundup of 3 simple Sensory Bins you can make for Christmas or the winter holidays.

Help your child experience different sensory textures while having fun decorating and re-decorating with these sensory bins. 

These are perfect for toddlers and young children on the autism spectrum or SPD. These are sure to be a big hit during play dates or gatherings with cousins during the holidays. Have some hands-on fun this holiday season!


1. Mini-Tree Decoration Bin

Dye some uncooked rice using green food coloring. To help the dyed rice dry faster, add some alcohol-based hand gel and leave it to dry spread out on a large baking tray. To add to the sensory experience, try adding a few drops of peppermint oil.

Add the rice in a large sensory bin and add a small christmas tree.  Now for the decorations:

  • Sparkly pom poms
  • Small christmas tree ornaments
  • Candy canes
  • String of beads  

Kids will love decorating the tiny tree with ornaments in the sensory bin.

Images by The Imagination Tree

christmas sensory bin



2. Peppermint Scented Oats


Add a few drops of green or red food coloring to a bin of uncooked oatmeal. Add a few drops of peppermint essential oil.

Image by LearnPlayImagine



3. Mini Arctic World Sensory Bin

Find a white shoe box or paint the inside of a shoe box with white paint. Now, add a few visually-appealing and tactile materials:

  • Cotton balls
  • Shiny plastic/paper strips (you might be able to find this in the gift wrap section.)
  • Silver plastic baubles
  • Silver bead garlands 
  • Small polar bear toys

Image by The Imagination Tree


These are just some ideas. Be creative. Get out there make your own sensory bin creation for Christmas according to your child’s likes and fascinations.

What do you think of these ideas? If you have any other ideas share them in the comments below. 



Now and Then: Things I wish I knew when my child was diagnosed with autism

by Linda Mastroianni


There are certain events in one’s life that are so significant, we can remember every single detail of that day and, more specifically, the moment when everything changed.

I remember the day I received the diagnosis for my son; I remember all of it, every detail.

I remember how grey it was and the rain that was pouring down. I remember the smell of the freshly painted hallway and the worn-out books and toys in the waiting room. I remember the sound of the secretary’s high heels rhythmically making their way down the hall.

I remember the look of the psychologist’s face when she gave me the diagnosis- “classic autism” she said.

I couldn’t look her straight in the eye, her look of sorrow was too much for me to bear. Instead I was focusing on my son, who was sitting next to me on the floor, oblivious to what the doctor was labeling him.

I also remember the sinking feeling I had immediately after leaving the hospital. I wasn’t certain how I was going to take care of my child in the manner that he needed.

Would I be a good mother? Would I know how to help him? How will I know what therapy is best for him? Where do I even begin?

Suffice it to say, I made some mistakes as we began our new journey with autism but, as the years passed, I also learned a great deal and I got better at handling things differently. I became a strong advocate and warrior for my son. I learned how to be his voice until his was strong enough to stand alone.

Hindsight is always 20/20 but we don’t live life this way. It’s normal for parents to make mistakes in their parenting journey.

However, I must admit looking back, I would have done a lot of things differently – things that probably would have saved me for a great deal of unnecessary anxiety and stress.

Here are five things I would have done differently:

1. Forgive myself more.

I would be less hard on myself, trying to do all of the right things at the right moment for my son. If a certain therapy didn’t work out, I wouldn’t blame myself for not trying hard enough or not starting sooner.

2. Listen to my gut instinct.

I would listen to my inner voice more often when things didn’t feel right and less to what others thought was best for my son. I would not ignore my feelings for the sake of others.

3. Worry less.

I wouldn’t waste precious time worrying about the future and trying to control things that are truly out of my control. Instead, I’d live in the moment, plan for the future but not worry about it every waking moment of the day.

4. Take better care of myself.

I would not wait until I felt depleted and on the verse of a burnout or panic attack before reaching out to get help. I would acknowledge that I too am worthy of all good things and my health is my wealth. Self care isn’t selfish.

5. Take pictures and write everything down.

Enjoy every moment that passes, even the difficult ones because they too hold a lesson and they can sometimes be the starting point to a wonderful milestone that will be achieved. So, write things down to help you remember.


We are all on our personal journey raising our child with autism and no one is identical. Parenting is hard and on most days a lot of us question if what we're doing is enough or right.

What works today may not work tomorrow and that’s okay. Nobody has this figured out. Just trust yourself enough to know that you’ve gotten this far and you’ll continue to go on even further.

Take the lessons of today to help you tomorrow. Every day is a new day to start fresh and learn new things to make us better parents and better human beings.


Linda Mastroianni is founder, writer, and blogger of and She is a certified life coach providing consulting services to special needs parents on many issues such as: moving forward after the diagnosis, divorce with a special needs child, dynamics of a blended family, special education, life skills strategies, transition into the workplace, aging out of the school system and much more.


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