There are always claims that certain products help relieve this or that, but how can you be sure without paying money to find out for yourself? You don’t want to shell out your hard-earned cash on things that’ll just end up being a big, fat disappointment, right?
Weighted Blankets for Autism: What’s the Real Deal?
Will that vegetable peeler really peel an entire watermelon in 20 seconds?
Will that vibrating exercise thingy really help me lose 10 pounds in two days?
Will that face cream really make me look 30 years younger?
With infomercials and the oversaturation of information on the internet, it’s hard to know for sure. But, when it comes to weighted blankets, there’s lots of evidence to back the claims that they help kids and adults with autism.
The Origin Story of Weighted Blankets for Autism
Weighted blankets were initially developed out of necessity in the early 1990s. They were designed based on the scientific findings of how Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS) positively impacts anxiety and PTSD.
Originally, weighted blankets were used to calm children suffering from severe anxiety and autism. Since that time, more and more people dealing with other mental health issues have used weighted blankets to ease stress and help them sleep better. Weighted blankets are used for helping people with:
- Other sensory processing disorders
How Weighted Blankets Help Children and Adults with Autism
Weighted blankets help relieve stress and calm anxiety by delivering a constant slight pressure on the body, or DPS. When a child or adult with autism climbs snuggles up under a weighted blanket to fall asleep, they’ll begin to feel relaxed and ready to catch some Zs.
Why? Well, DPS causes your body to increase just the right hormones you need to feel calm and sleepy: serotonin and melatonin. It also decreases cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone that gives you energy and the one responsible for making you feel stressed out. So to have the perfect mixture of hormones coursing through your veins before and during sleep, weighted blankets are the way to go.
The Benefits of Weighted Blankets for Autism
One of the prevalent symptoms of autistic children is trouble sleeping, which is why weighted blankets were developed initially. But that’s not all weighted blankets can do.
Yup, there’s more.
Weighted Blankets Can Improve Transition Times
Transitions from one activity to another, or from one place to another, are a common area of struggle for people with autism, especially children.
Often children with autism have a tough time transitioning from a fun, exciting activity to something more mundane. For example, a child with autism may struggle if they come in from having fun outside and have to transition to riding in a car to go somewhere.
That’ll probably result in some sort of resistance.
In this scenario, you could bring the weighted blanket along with you in the car. Simply rest on the child’s lap. The DPS will work its magic by releasing serotonin in your child’s system, helping them calm down.
Weighted blankets are also used for helping children with autism transition to bed easily. Bedtime is typically one of the most challenging transitions for children with autism.
But with weighted blankets, bedtime can become a whole lot easier. Not only will a weighted blanket help them fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, but it can calm them down and make them tired right before bed. Parents can lay a weighted blanket on their child’s lap while reading a book to help prepare them for the once-difficult transition to sleep.
Weighted Blankets Help With Sensory Input
Many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and children with sensory processing disorder (SPD) have issues understanding where their body ends and where everything else begins. Sensory information in the form of sound, touch, and movement is tough to process for them.
That’s why weighted blankets, especially sensory weighted blankets, can help. Weighted blankets not only benefit children and adults with autism through DPS, but some weighted blankets are made with materials extremely favorable to people with sensory issues.
Our Sensory + Bamboo weighted blanket is made using silky-soft fleece material and small bumps. These two characteristics have been proven to be very useful in helping to calm children and adults with autism.
Weighted Blankets Can Improve Classroom Performance
Not only can weighted blankets help children with autism get a better night’s sleep, but they can also help them perform better in the classroom.
Well-rested kiddos are, by far, easier to handle — both at home and in the classroom. A well-rested mind can help children with autism focus better. Weighted blankets draped over the shoulders or legs in the classroom can also help them with fine motor skills.
Writing and in-seat behavior, and lower levels of fidgeting, or self-stimulating behavior, are just a few areas where teachers have seen improvement in children with autism.
How To Choose the Best Weighted Blanket for Children and Adults with Autism
One of the essential characteristics of a weighted blanket is its size. The rule of thumb is to choose a weighted blanket equal to about 10% of your child’s or your body weight.
Here’s a helpful little chart to give you a better idea:
You also want to make sure the weighted blanket you choose is constructed using high-quality materials that allow for the appropriate DPS and airflow level.
There aren’t many weighted blankets on the market that meet those two critical criteria. But Weighted Evolution blankets are a cut above the rest.
Our weighted blankets are made of breathable bamboo and microfiber materials and a proprietary weight system we call “Sensory Sand”. Along with a double-stitched construction, these aspects make them the best choice in weighted blankets for children and adults with autism.
Try one of our award-winning weighted blankets and see how it can help your child with autism, or you, get a better night’s sleep and live a happier, more-rested life.