Is there any scientific research or proof into the effectiveness of the Squease deep pressure vest?

The Squease pressure vest was part of a pilot study, which showed that Squease increased Oxytocin (often described as the happiness or cuddle hormone) levels in the participants. The study was by American scientist Paul Zak, and is detailed below.  The Squease vest is also being used in a research study in collaboration with an organisation in the Netherlands. As soon as the results are available we will publish them here.

People with sensory processing (especially those with autism and adhd) parents and therapists have been involved in Squease’s development since the very beginning of the project. Their feedback informed the final design and all the details that make Squease a great product. We also have heard many positive stories from thousands of users, their families and therapists. Very often, users send us stories about their experiences which you can read here. Also, take a look at the Effects of Deep Pressure section to understand the principles of deep pressure.

As our pressure vest is relatively new, most academic research into the effects of deep pressure with people with sensory processing disorders, use weighted products (such as weighted vests or weighted blankets) to create a sensation of pressure. The results of the research into weighted product use is divided. Unfortunately a number of the available studies have very small sample groups (less than five people) and we believe that the area requires more rigorous study. We would welcome joining any research initiatives examining the effect of deep pressure. We would strongly encourage you to do your own research and have listed the papers below which have influenced our development the most.

Squease pressure vest increases oxytocin – pilot study

Summary: For this preliminary pilot study, 4 users wore the Squease pressure vest for 20 minutes each. Measurements were taken before and after,  for change in stress hormones, oxytocin and the physiologic effect. The Squease Vest appears to mimic the effects of a human-to-human hug. This is shown in a small increase in Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and a moderate increase in Oxytocin (OT). OT is ONLY increased by social interactions, so this is an important finding. The change in positive mood is consistent with the increase in OT. Overall, a very successful pilot which warrants a larger scale publishable study.

Dr Paul. J. Zak
Pilot Study

Clinical and neural effects of six-week administration of oxytocin on core symptoms of autism.

Abstract: Autism spectrum disorder is a prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder with no established pharmacological treatment for its core symptoms. Although previous literature has shown that single-dose administration of oxytocin temporally mitigates autistic social behaviours in experimental settings, it remains in dispute whether such potentially beneficial responses in laboratories can result in clinically positive effects in daily life situations, which are measurable only in long-term observations of individuals with the developmental disorder undergoing continual oxytocin administration. Here, to address this issue, we performed an exploratory, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial including 20 high-functional adult males with autism spectrum disorder. Data obtained from 18 participants who completed the trial showed that 6-week intranasal administration of oxytocin significantly reduced autism core symptoms specific to social reciprocity, which was clinically evaluated by Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale (P = 0.034, PFDR < 0.05, Cohen’s d = 0.78). Critically, the improvement of this clinical score was accompanied by oxytocin-induced enhancement of task-independent resting-state functional connectivity between anterior cingulate cortex and dorso-medial prefrontal cortex (rho = -0.60, P = 0.011), which was measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Watanabe, Kuroda, Kuwabara, Aoki, Iwashiro, Tatsunobu, Takao, Nippashi, Kawakubo, Kunimatsu, Kasai, Yamasue

Brain. 2015 Nov;138(Pt 11):3400-12. doi: 10.1093/brain/awv249. Epub 2015 Sep 3.

Read more here…

Effects of weighted vests on attention, impulse control, and on-task behavior in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Objective: In this study, we examined the effectiveness of using weighted vests for improving attention, impulse control, and on-task behavior in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Method: In a randomized, two-period crossover design, 110 children with ADHD were measured using the Conners’ Continuous Performance Test–II (CPT–II) task.

Results: In the weighted vest condition, the participants did show significant improvement in all three attentional variables of the CPT–II task, including inattention; speed of processing and responding; consistency of executive management; and three of four on-task behaviors, including off task, out of seat, and fidgets. No significant improvements in impulse control and automatic vocalizations were found.

Conclusion: Although wearing a weighted vest is not a cure-all strategy, our findings support the use of the weighted vest to remedy attentional and on-task behavioral problems of children with ADHD.

Hung-Yu Lin; Posen Lee; Wen-Dien Chang; Fu-Yuan Hong

American Journal of Occupational Therapy, March/April 2014, Vol. 68, 149-158. doi:10.5014/ajot.2014.009365

Read more here…

Reported Experiences using Weighted vests with Children with Specific Developmental Disorders

A survey of 51 Occupational Therapists entered responses into a data bank. Quantitative Results suggest changes in attention and staying on task (for children with developmental disorders); decreased rocking and increased eye contact(for children with autism); and decreased act outs (for children with SID). Qualitative Results noted that 70% of respondents reported changes in their children’s behavior and postural control were due to the use of a weighted vest.

Olson LJ, Moulton HJ.

Occup Ther Int. 2004;11(1):52-66.

Read more here…

Occupational Therapists’ Reported Experiences using Weighted vests with Children with Specific Developmental Disorders.

This sampling of 514 pediatric OTs found a majority of positive responses regarding improvements in their client’s on-task performance while wearing weighted vests. It was cautioned though that biases were possible due to the opinions of the clinicians and the subjectivity of their perceptions of the results with the use of a weighted vest.

Olson LJ, Moulton HJ

Phys Occup Ther Pediatr. 2004;24(3):45-60.

Read more here…

Behavioral and physiological effects of deep pressure on children with autism: A pilot study evaluating the efficacy of Grandin’s hug machine.

This study evaluated the effectiveness of a device called the Grandin’s Hug Machine (a machine that offers self controlled lateral body pressure) on arousal and anxiety reduction in autism. Arousal was measured with the Conners Parent Rating Scale (to be completed by the parents before the 1st session and after the 6th and 12th session). Physiological responses were measured with a galvanic skin response reading (GSR) (measured before and after each session). Each child received 12, 20-minute sessions in the Hug Machine. (2 x’s a week for 6 weeks). They were to apply deep pressure with the machine as often as desired. The placebo group laid in the machine with the lever for the deep pressure disengaged, so they were unable to apply pressure. The results showed a significant reduction in tension and anxiety for the experimental group as well as a decrease in GSR measures after the deep pressure.

Edelson SM, Edelson MG, Kerr DC, Grandin T.

Am J Occup Ther. 1999 Mar-Apr;53(2):145-52.

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The effect of the wearing of weighted vests on the sensory behaviour of learners diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder within a school context

Purpose: Children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often have sensory processing difficulties. Therefore, they find it difficult to function optimally in the classroom environment. This study investigated the effect that wearing a weighted vest has on their in-seat behaviour, task completion speed and attention-to-task.

Method: A longitudinal experimental research design was employed with 30 foundation Phase learners from a remedial school in Gauteng; cross-over of treatment was implemented. Data on in-seat behaviour was measured by recording the period of time participants were able to stay seated. Task completion speed was assessed by timing how long participants were able to stay seated during literacy periods. The Conners’ Continues Performance Test II was used to measure participants’ attention to the task.

Results: The Phase group effect for in-seat behaviour and attention-to-task indicated a statistically significant difference when learners wore weighted vests. This was not true for task completion speed.

Conclusion: The weighted vests improved the in-seat behaviour and attention to task of learners diagnosed with ADHD in a classroom context.

Fransli Buckle, Denise Franzsen, Juanita Bester

South African Journal of Occupational Therapy Vol 41, No 3 (2011)

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A systematic review of treatments for anxiety in youth with autism spectrum disorders.

This study systematically examined the efficacy and safety of psychopharmacological and non-psychopharmacological treatments for anxiety in youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Four psychopharmacological, nine cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and two alternative treatment studies met inclusion criteria.

Psychopharmacological studies were descriptive or open label, sometimes did not specify the anxiety phenotype, and reported behavioral activation. Citalopram and buspirone yielded some improvement, whereas fluvoxamine did not. Non-psychopharmacological studies were mainly randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with CBT demonstrating moderate efficacy for anxiety disorders in youth with high functioning ASD. Deep pressure and neurofeedback provided some benefit. All studies were short-term and included small sample sizes. Large scale and long term RCTs examining psychopharmacological and non-psychopharmacological treatments are sorely needed.

Vasa RA, Carroll LM, Nozzolillo AA, Mahajan R, Mazurek MO, Bennett AE, Wink LK, Bernal MP.

J Autism Dev Disord. 2014 Dec;44(12):3215-29. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2184-9.

Read more here…