(A collage of compression products used to comfort children with ADHD and Autism. The custom compression products were designed and created by local Mom, Virginia Dubois. Photos: submitted)
Working in collaboration with On the Ball Pediatric Physio and Occupational Therapy, local stay-at-home mom Virginia Dubois offers custom compression products for children who are differently abled. Sensory products such as compression vests provide a gentle hug-like pressure to help children feel calm and secure, meeting the needs of children with ADHD or Autism.
Having studied relevant fields in both university and college, Virginia has worked with differently abled children, youth, and adults for over 10 years. “Just for fun,” Virginia says she has always created special compression or weighted items for clients. “While working I’ve often noticed a lack of products that provide dignity to the wearers, that are affordable and functional. I often would dabble and make things special for whatever clients I was working with.”
Virginia discovered how inaccessible compression garments really were when her daughter, Lea, was born premature and diagnosed with muscle and sensory challenges. “Her doctor and occupational therapist recommended that she get a vest to help her engage her core muscles and assist with her high sensory needs. It quickly became apparent that the products available were expensive and took weeks to receive; nothing local was available. More so they weren’t exciting or representing what clothing styles I would want my daughter in; so I took to the fabric store.” Thus, Virginia began making sensory and compression clothing to suit Lea’s needs.
The compression vest’s design and fabric style were tweaked again and again until the product was perfect. Without any tags or itchy distractions, the compression vest helps calm children and activates their core. Additionally, to continue to meet the needs of parents, Virginia’s items are machine washable and dryable – “No more hand wash, air dry clothing for kids, it’s just not realistic for a toddler lifestyle.”
Having perfected the compression vest, Virginia ventured into other sensory products – such as tunnels and body socks – for her daughter. Lea’s physiotherapist, Liane Norman, offered to test out Virginia’s products at her business, On the Ball. The two ended up going into business together after Virginia demonstrated her passion for “bringing empowerment to the types of clothing and accessories badly needed in the field of therapy wear for children. Together we hope to change how we address compression wear and empower the wearer to feel beautiful in the skin they are in.” The products are tested by clients, social influencers, and therapists at On the Ball. They are then tweaked until they’re perfect and ready to be sold to the public.
With these strides, Virginia is passionate about expanding her products to fit all families and lifestyles. To allow her to continue her compression line, Virginia is reaching out to her local community with a fundraiser on GoFundMe. Her goal is to raise $5,000. “Right now, I’m not able to have consistent fabric choices because bolts of fabric are too far out of my budget as a stay-at-home mom and local start up. I want to be able to let parents select fabric choices in advance to fit the style and personality of their child. We are focusing on the community needs and keeping everything local to support fellow Ottawa families.” Virginia hopes that, with the help of Ottawa locals, she can buy fabric and supplies in bulk. This would allow her to keep costs down and maintain a local and accessible line of sensory products.
Virginia’s products – such as compression tank tops and lycra compression tunnels – are available for sale at On the Ball’s Kanata and Orleans locations. Newer products are coming soon, including a body sock and compression arm sleeves with thumb holes. Virginia states that she “can’t wait to design more and continue presenting concepts that are out of the box, functional, beautiful, and affordable.”