Friday, May 6, 2011

A Day Without A Compression Shirt

My son has been wearing compression shirts to school since early last fall when his OT at the time suggested it. Many children with autism have sensory issues and crave deep pressure. With Kai, we saw immediate results. From the first time he wore the shirts, he performed much better at school than he did before. So, he has been wearing them ever since.

There have been a lot of ups and downs over these past several months so the shirts are not any kind of magic cure for all of Kai’s behavior issues. In fact, most of these shirts now have holes in them from his biting during times when he is upset. But based on the positive early results, we stayed with it.

Because he’s worn compression shirts to school every day, we have not compared his performance without the shirts since those first couple of weeks.

Until now.

This week was Educator Appreciation Week. Toward that, the other day my wife went to Kai’s school before the start of classes to help serve breakfast to the teachers and staff. That meant that I had to get Kai ready for school by myself.

In the rush, I did not check to see if he had on his compression shirt underneath his other shirt. It was only after he left for school that I saw it on his bed where I had left it for him. He had not worn it.

That day, Kai had his worst day of school in two months. By contrast, his behavior on the rest of his days this week was very good. So, that day is a clear outlier.

Was it the lack of a compression shirt? A scientist would say that one occurrence is not an adequate test. And scientifically speaking it is not. But we are not taking any chances. It’s compression shirts every day from now on.


  1. It had never occurred to me about compression shirts. My son stretches out his shirts with his knees as he sits...probably because he enjoys the tight feeling. Perhaps we shall try these. Is that Undergear (brand?).

  2. on the highlighted area...Under Armor.

  3. Never heard of a compression shirt, just a weighted jacket. I'll definitely have to look into it. I agree, one time is enough of a "test"!

    Congratulations!!!!! You Won the Loving Lampposts DVD Giveaway that ended last night. Please email me your mailing info at
    Congrats again!
    Kelsi @

  4. The compression shirts really seem to work with Kai but I would be very curious to hear of both of your experiences if you go ahead and try it.

    Kelsi, thank you!!!!! I am very excited about winning. I can't wait to see Loving Lampposts!

  5. Hi, where can I get the compression shirts? how much are they? Does he wear it at home as well? Does he just wear a t-shirt right on top? I think I will try one as well. Is it just a swim shirt that I can get from a sports store?

  6. Hi. When we first investigated this, we were told about specially made therapeutic compression shirt for kids with sensory issues. But, those were terribly expensive so we tried Under Armour Heatgear compression shirts that you can get at most sporting goods stores (or Amazon). These shirts are made for sports or exercise and take the moisture away from the body. Just make sure you get a size that fits snugly against the body. In the winter, our son wore those under other shirts. But now that it is warmer, he often wears them by themselves. We have him wear it at home, too, unless they are all in the laundry at the time. At Amazon, you can now find boys' sizes for about $20. But, you can check local stores for other brands, too. Hope that helps!

  7. I just got a starter compression shirt from Walmart for $7.97. His therapist recommended getting it a size smaller, but they only had his size, but it fits very snug. We'll see how it goes.

    1. Hi Lori, sorry for the late reply. Please let me know how it is going for you. We had stopped using compression shirts in the past couple of years as Kai had outgrown the ones we had. Your comment reminded me that we had had success before. He's had a relatively poor year in school so I'd like to have him go back on the compression shirts and see if it makes an impact again. I just ordered them, and I will post again to let you know how it goes.

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