Picture of a Child with Autism Wearing a Weighted Blanket

The Complete Guide to Weighted Blankets for Autism

Dealing with an individual or loved one who is afflicted by autism definitely has its challenges, but ultimately, you would only want what is best for him or her. Fortunately, modern technology has helped make all of our lives a lot easier through different innovations that have been developed over the years.

When caring for someone with autism, for example, there are a good number of delicate methods. However, we will be focusing on the one tool that alleviates the discomfort for most children with autism, and that is the weighted blanket.

As the word itself implies, weighted blankets are fabrics that are a bit heavier than usual, and are essentially aimed to help a child or teenager with autism sleep better or decrease the amount of time before he or she falls asleep. But there are deeper explanations and scientific reasons for the use of such a contraption, and these are what we will be delving deeper into through this article.

Picture of Child Wearing a Blue Weighted Blanket

How Does the Weighted Blanket For Autism Work?

The pressure and weight that the blanket provides, otherwise known as deep touch simulation, helps produce serotonin. This is the chemical that is responsible for calming the body down, which then leads to the production of melatonin, which is then responsible for giving us a good night’s sleep.

Many parents who have children with autism use a weighted blanket not only for sleeping, but also to calm them down as well. Parents usually drape it across their child’s shoulders in order to make him or her feel more secure. https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/do-weighted-blankets-improve-sleep-children-and-teens-autism

And because the weighted blanket is believed to be the remedy for sleep disruption, the child’s quality of sleep improves, which also transcends to their quality of life. The blanket lessens the likelihood of them tossing and turning during their sleep, as the deep touch simulation further enhances the experience.

What Are Other Benefits of Using a Weighted Blanket For Autism, Apart from Sleep Quality Improvement?

As previously mentioned, the improved quality of sleep among children with autism after using a weighted blanket can be enormous, and can greatly improve the quality of their life overall. Having ample amount of sleep is something that all people can benefit from, especially children afflicted with a disease.

For one thing, the use of a weighted blanket can be great for sensory input, especially since those dealing with such diseases have trouble with developing body awareness. Once again, it is the benefit of having the deep touch simulation which helps them deal with this sensory processing disorder.

The overall effect of weighted blankets can also be seen in the improvement of a child’s classroom performance, again because of the improved sleep quality. Studies have shown that a child’s on-task behavior when performing motor skills are greatly improved. The weight on the blanket also helps reduce self-stimulatory behavior, or cases of fidgeting that usually manifests within them.

The effects of a weighted blanket can even go as far as psychological aspects, as it can also give off the same feeling as a hug from a parent or loved one. Since children with autism have difficulty in dealing with physical touch, even from their mother or father, the weighted blanket helps fill that void and helps prevent problems brought on by the lack of physical touch.

In turn, children are able to have better brain development because they are made to feel secure and safe with a lot more ease and less struggle.

Lastly, the use of a weighted blanket can also help improve a child’s transition from low energy activities to those that require a bit more energy and vice versa. These activities include working on homework as soon as they get home from school or getting ready for bed after a long and active day. The calming effect that the deep touch simulation gives out helps them settle down before beginning a new activity.

Picture of Child Sitting Up in Weighted Blanket

How Do You Pick Out the Right Weighted Blanket for Your Child?

It goes without saying that the bigger the blanket size is, the heavier it will get. But according to experts, finding the right size for your child to use is essential for them to get the most out of this very helpful tool.

The rule of thumb, as advised by those in the know, is that the perfect blanket is around 10% of the child’s body weight, with an added two pounds. Of course, it will be different for adult use and would need to be carefully studied since it would vary a great deal.

This means that if your child weighs up to 40 pounds, the ideal weighted blanket for them would be up to 5 pounds. Those who weigh up 70 pounds will need a 7-pound blanket, while a 90-pound child will need a 10-pound blanket.

But ultimately, the important thing is to find the right blanket size that would suit your child and give them utmost comfort. The idea here is to make their lives easier and their conditions a lot less complicated to deal with, both for you as a parent, and for your children themselves.

Why Should We Use a Weighted Blanket?

While there have been new research findings claiming that there are not really any direct positive effects of using weighted blankets for children with autism and their quality of sleep, there also are many many first-hand accounts that say otherwise.

Ultimately, it is all about proper discernment and doing your due diligence as a parent before deciding to utilize this tool. After all, we would only want what is best for our children, especially for those that need more intensive care.

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Health and Fitness Enthusiast. Proud father of two amazing kids and a dog.

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