*(Germany) Use of weighted vests for calming kids with ADHD in school raises questions

Jan 21, 2018, Dublin, The Irish Times: Use of sand vests to calm children with ADHD sparks concern

Experts divided on practice adopted by 200 German schools to curb pupils’ restlessness German schools are increasingly asking unruly and hyperactive children to wear heavy sand-filled vests in an effort to calm them and keep them on their seats, despite the misgivings of some parents and psychiatrists.

The controversial sand vests weigh between 1.2kg and 6kg and are being used by 200 schools across Germany. Advocates of the vests, which cost between €140 and €170, say they have witnessed a remarkable change in behaviour in many of the children who have worn them, claiming the heavy vests help to curb children’s restlessness. A growing number of children are being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) each year in Germany, as elsewhere. Schools that use the vests argue they are an uncomplicated way of tackling the phenomenon head on, and a gentler and less complicated form of therapy than drugs such as Ritalin. … Ms de Wall first came across the vests when she taught in the United States, where they are sometimes used for children with autism and are variously referred to as compression vests or squeeze jackets. She said that, far from constraining a child, they can help them to feel centred. “Kids who fidget a lot or have a sensory disorder, often have problems being able to sort out one stimulus from another,” she said. “The vests help them to have a better sense of themselves, and that in turn helps them to concentrate.” T

he main manufacturer of sand vests in Germany, Beluga Healthcare in Lower Saxony, said the company had made vests for “thousands of happy customers” and had been doing so for the past 18 years. He admitted that no study has been carried out on the long-term effectiveness of the vests. “We’ve tried to find an institute that might do it, but so far there’s been no interest,” he added.