How does a weighted blanket work? Do weighted blankets help with autism? How does a weighted blanket help with sensory issues? How heavy should my weighted blanket be?
Keep reading to answer all these questions about weighted blankets for autism!
Weighted Blanket for Autism: What you need to know
As a parent of a child with autism, chances are you have heard of using a weighted blanket. Many studies have confirmed that weighted blankets can help children and adults with autism.
How do Weighted Blankets Help Autism?
Weighted blankets use the power of Deep Pressure Touch Stimulation (DPTS). DPTS creates a calming and secure feeling for the person using it. The comfort alone is a huge benefit, but there are many more benefits of a weighted blanket.
Initially, weighted blankets were designed for children with autism sleep better. However, the more researchers investigated the effects of it, the more benefits they found!
Weighted blankets, which have become a phenomenon, are being used to help with anxiety, restlessness syndrome, as well as insomnia for children and adults alike.
Benefits of a Weighted Blanket
Promoting and Improving Sleep
By using a weighted blanket, the DPTS naturally increase levels of relaxation with Serotonin and Melatonin release. Both of these are found naturally in our bodies, but different disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorder and Insomnia can interfere with the natural production of both melatonin and serotonin.
Helps Reduce Anxiety
There have been many studies on the anxiety-reducing benefits of a weighted blanket. According to one study, even short-term use of a weighted blanket significantly reduced anxiety.
As mentioned before, these weighted blankets are for anyone who has trouble sleeping at night, including adults with autism. A lot of people might not know this, but these blankets are a mood booster. They help the body release serotonin, the happy hormone, and reduce cortisol, the stress hormone, by using only pressure. They also help those with autism transition smoothly.
Helps with ADHD Symptoms
One of the most significant struggles for those affected with ADHD is focusing. There have been countless studies that show using weighted devices can help minimize fidgeting, anxiousness, and improve overall focus.
Sometimes, kids find it challenging to transition from one energy level to another. So, if your kid just finished playing and needs to go to sleep, they might find it challenging to do so. This is why a heavy blanket can help them go from a high energy level to a calmer one.
These products also help kids focus better. Another benefit of deep pressure therapy is that it reduces fidgeting, meaning, the more your child undergoes the deep pressure therapy that the covers provide, the more likely they are to stop fidgeting in class and focus more.
They Are Non-Medicinal
A tool to use that’s not just another pill to take! Not only are they non-medicinal, but they also help with a wide array of diagnoses. Weight blankets help with Insomnia, Anxiety, Panic attacks, Autism, Restless leg syndrome, ADHD, PTSD, and many more!
Like Being Hugged
There are a lot of kids with ASD who cannot handle a hug from a loved one because they mostly prefer a firm, tight sensation without physical contact. This is precisely what the blankets provide. They are firm and heavy enough to replicate the feeling of being hugged, which significantly reduces their separation anxiety disorder and general anxiety.
Helps Aid Sensory Receptors
Some children on the autism spectrum might also suffer from sensory processing disorder, which can sometimes make them unaware of their bodies because they struggle to receive information through their senses. And because these blankets add pressure on their sensory receptors, they can quickly tell where their bodies end and whether they need to adjust their limbs or not.
How do Weighted Blankets work?
Blankets are designed to keep us warm, so how can one type of weighted blanket do so much more than just maintaining warmth? To understand how weighted blankets for adults & children with autism work, we need to know how they are made.
As the name implies, these blankets are somewhat heavier than your average blanket. They are usually made from different fabrics and typically use weighted pellets. Some weighted blankets for autism are made from pure cotton, and others use Minky dot fabric.
Size & Weight
There is no one right fabric for these kinds of blankets so that you can pick from a wide variety. Just make sure you include your kid in the picking process since the blanket will be for them. The same thing goes for the stuffing, too. Some companies use poly-pellets, rice, PP cotton, or glass beads. The only thing that you need to take note of is that the blanket should weigh 10% of your child’s body weight. So, the best thing to do is to know your kid’s weight and weigh the blanket before purchasing it.
So, how does a heavy blanket help your child? Well, the answer is simple. It’s like a hug for them. Kids with ASD are prone to feeling overwhelmed and restless, which is why their pressure receptors need to feel a soft kind of pressure so it can calm down.
When we feel uneasy, our fight or flight response is activated, and it makes us feel anxious and nervous. So, these blankets act as a calming, soothing sensation that the kids can continuously feel at sleep time. They increase melatonin and help relax the nervous system. These blankets give the same effects as a hug, and that’s the whole point of them.
Why are these important?
If anyone were to describe what these covers are made from and how they feel, the first word they would likely choose to describe it would be comfortable. There are a lot of people with different kinds of mental illnesses that need weighted covers to fall asleep because it makes them feel safe and contained. Some people can’t sleep unless they are completely tucked in. But, with these blankets, you don’t need to be tucked in because it will feel like you are.
These covers can easily get overlooked; in fact, some think that they are a scam. When, in reality, they are considered to be beneficial and soothing. These blankets also help your child to associate sleeping with comfort rather than fear and anxiousness. Sleeping is vital for our health, especially for kids. So, if your kid is restless and can’t sleep, you might want to consider buying this product for your child’s sake.
Our top picks of Weighted Blankets:
How to Make a Weighted Blanket for Autism
Are you crafty? If so, making your own weighted blanket might be the perfect option for you! The video below shows how to make a weighted blanket for autism that cost a total of $29 for a small child’s blanket. While you may not save a ton of money making a weighted, you can make it personalized.
Here’s what you will need:
- Minky Fabric
- Poly pellets or other filler
- Sewing Scissors
- Measuring tape
- Kitchen scales, measuring cups, or tablespoons
- Sewing machine
Then follow the steps below:
Deciding on the Right Weighted Blanket for Autism
Weighted blankets are super helpful for those with autism. Not only do these products help them sleep at night. They also calm down their nervous system by adding pressure to the right receptors. To learn more about autism, check out our autism parenting archives.