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4-H’ers pitch in to help autistic children with calm, focus - Kearney Hub: Livewellkearney

4-H’ers pitch in to help autistic children with calm, focus

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Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012 3:55 pm


Hub Staff Writer

KEARNEY — Children at Family Physical Therapy will feel calm with the help of weighted vests.

“It’s kind of like a hug for them,” said Allison Ellicott, a physical therapist assistant at Family Physical Therapy. “A lot of kids need that extra stimulation to help them focus on their task.”

The Cornerstone Clovers 4-H club made three weighted vests, which can be beneficial for children with autism, sensory integration disorder, ADHD and other neurological disorders. The vests help them calm down and improve their ability to concentrate.

“It means so much that an organization is looking at the needs of children with special needs. Just to have these kids reach out to these other kids is just huge,” said Family Physical Therapy occupational therapist Nora DiGregorio.

Wendy McKenzie, the 4-H club leader, brought the idea to the club after watching her neighbor’s son struggle with sensory integration disorder.

Her neighbor, Angela Kissel, made many items necessary to help her son Gabriel, now 8, when he was younger.

“She and her mom were busy sewing all kinds of contraptions for him to wear,” McKenzie said.

Gabriel is now able to deal with his disorder, but McKenzie thought the 4-H club could help other children in the community.

The group got together June 14 and made the vests by removing the sleeves of denim shirts to make pockets inside the shirt to hold sand.

The weight of each vest is adjustable with the number of sand bags used.

Family Physical Therapy has one vest already, but it’s too large for many children. The new vests will fit children ranging from 30 to 80 pounds.

“We just want to thank the 4-H kids for thinking of us,” Ellicott said.

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