Jake’s Fingers: See My Vest?

The big thing in Jake’s therapy this week was his very own Benik vest arriving.  In fact, we are so excited, I thought we would properly show it off. 

Here it is, all spread out, with Jake doing “model hands” for the picture. 


Jake is REALLY excited about his vest.

After I hog-tie him into his vest, this is what it looks like on.  (There should be an Olympic sport that involves getting a squirmy, opinionated toddler into a Benik vest!)

And, the back of the vest on Jake.  Yes, it does give him a huge and permanent wedgie.

If you are wondering,”What the crap is a Benik vest?”, I’ll tell you.  Aren’t I nice?

A Benik vest is a compression suit, made out of neoprene, which feels very much like wearing a wet-suit.  Jake’s sensory disorder makes it so he can’t feel his body in space.  If you or I are upside down, we know we are upside down.  If we want to sit down on the ground, we have an approximate idea of how far away the ground is, how slow we need to sit, and if I tell you to imagine sitting on the floor, you would know what that feels like.  Jake can’t do any of that.  And, to make things even worse, when he gets stressed out, he feels like his body parts are literally becoming disjointed and floating away.  Imagine how you would feel if every time you got annoyed with your boss, your arm came off and began to levitate.  The point is, that the pressure all over Jake’s body that the Benik vest provides, helps him understand where his body parts are and where he is in space.

The practical problem with a child with sensory issues that Jake exhibits is extreme hesitancy.  When he steps down off a stair, he doesn’t know where his foot is or how far he is going to have to go to step down, so he goes really slow and has to think for a long time about making that scary step.  Since he waits until he is very sure he can do something, he walked late, has never skinned his knees, and he rarely falls.  He just goes really slow all the time.  All that adds up to him being very behind in his physical developement. 


The Benik vest is going to help fix all that.  With the deep pressure on his body, he can orient himself in space and has become much more adventurous.  He even tried running a little.  He climbs up and down onto chairs much faster, his legs are much closer together when he walks since he isn’t bracing himself for every step, and I’ve had to peel him off the back of the couch a few times.  I am starting to experience what most mothers of toddlers have experienced for over a year by this time. 

So, yeah, that’s why the Benik vest is our new best friend!

This week in therapy, we talked mostly about the vest and the importance of getting his physical therapy underway.  We are having trouble getting my doctor’s office to fill out the form to get him assessed and I’m going to camp out in their office if I don’t have the form in hand by Friday.  I’ll leave off explaining the necessity for the therapy until we meet with the actual physical therapist, but after seeing Becky work with Jake’s little legs this week, I believe more than ever that we need it. 

As far as the feeding therapy goes, he’s still progressing, but has gotten to the point of being overloaded.  So, we are going to take it easy this week and go backwards to some of his favorite, familiar, and safe foods and see if that helps him even out a little.

Another good week and, for all of you that have hung in there and read to the end, here’s a little (in a bad format) treat for you that explains the exact wording of the title of my post this week.  (It’s coincidentally one of my favorite Simpsons moments ever!)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h_LiLh6aTg

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2 Responses to Jake’s Fingers: See My Vest?

  1. David Nordstrom says:

    Love your writing. I have a small appreciation for what you’re going through. Our daughter (now nearly 18) has a lot of issues, one of which was a sensory issue. Not quite the same as your son, but one of over sensory stimulation. We learned fairly early on to get a weighted blanket for her. When ever she would start getting stressed out by too much or the wrong type of sensory information she could lay down with the weighted blanked. It was very comforting for her. She also spent a bit of time in physical therapy. It’s hard to know if it was really helpful, but it certainly didn’t hurt!

    You exhibit all the indicators of a great mom who is intent on doing all the best for her child and it’s wonderful to see and read about. Actively advocating for and seeking out all the possible resources for a child with more than the average problems in life is a difficult, frustrating, full time and often thankless activity, but I think that you wouldn’t have it any other way. Good for you.

    • Thank you, David. I appreciate your encouragment and you sharing your story with me. I need to hear other stories and successes, and I’m so thankful that your daughter is doing so well now! What a blessing. 🙂

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