One of the most stressful issues parents with autistic children struggle with are tantrums. How do you regulate a stressful environment? How do you calm your child? While developing the inflatable therapy vest idea, I met Danny, and I am so thankful that I did! Danny is a California teenage diagnosed with autism. Danny would get quite anxious and experience meltdowns and self-injurious behaviors. His dad told me about his pain and suffering and hoped the inflatable vest could alleviate some of that anguish in those tough times his dad called ‘episodes’. Danny and his dad reached out to me, as they heard about this inflatable vest I was developing and thought it might help.
At that time, his dad explained, "Every morning before Danny goes to school I provide him pressure with firm hugs to get rid of the stress that causes his bad behavioral events. I tell him to stay calm at school, but we both know that the morning compression is a temporary solution and he has no way of currently administering pressure to himself when he needs it. Sometimes he even wears a tight women’s leather jacket to school (and got made fun of), and asks regularly when we can get your Snug Vest. The pressure I provide him rapidly changes his personality from aggressive to calm. Danny has also been trying to use blood pressure cuffs to get the input that he needs to get through his school classes, using two different automatically inflating units, one with a wrist cuff and the other with an arm cuff. He was concerned about what other people will think about him using these, however, and insists on leaving the classroom to use these in order to get himself calmed down.” – a self-regulation strategy.
I personally knew I needed to do something about this. I only had a concept: a working prototype. Nothing more. I decided I needed to make my concept a reality at this point, after hearing Danny’s story. Even if there was a chance that the vest could help Danny, it was worth it. After working tirelessly to develop Snug Vest into a product available for everyone, Danny was the first to receive it.
Soon after trying out his new Vest, his dad says, “The results are phenomenal! It calms him down. It comforts him. It’s very fast acting. He pumps it up and he feels good. And unlike medication, it doesn’t have any side effects. It’s wearable therapy.”
Now, Snug Vest is helping Danny transition into new environments.
"Danny’s voice gets all breathy and relaxed when he puts Snug Vest on himself. Wearing Snug Vest is really effective. Danny’s sister commented that our dinner out the other night was the best ever, and it turns out that she was not referring to the food or service, but to Danny’s perfect behavior at the restaurant. He wore his Snug Vest inflated when we got into the car, when we walked into the restaurant, and for the first 10 minutes or so until he adapted to the new environment. The transitions are always chaotic for us, but not with Snug Vest!"
To see how Danny is doing now, 2 years later, go here.