You may have heard about weighted blankets, and perhaps you’re considering buying or making one for your child. A weighted blanket is basically just two pieces of fabric that are sewn together into squares with a filler that makes the blanket heavy. Blankets can come in all sorts of sizes and weights. Weighted blankets have been around for a long time, and they’re actually used for a variety of purposes. Those with ADHD, autism, SPD, PTSD, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, dementia, and more can all benefit from the use of weighted blankets.
How to Use Weighted Blankets
There are many common misconceptions about how to use a weighted blanket, the most common being that you should use it for a specific amount of time, that it should be a specific weight, or that it should be applied in a specific way. We’ve talked before about the nuance of special needs; there are generally no go-to solutions that work exactly the same for every child. You’ll have to work with you child to see what weight is more comfortable and how long they prefer to use the blanket. For children who need more proprioceptive input, a weighted blanket may be a life-saver, providing them with the weight and pressure they need to feel calm. For other children, a weighted blanket may not make any difference. The best way to find out is to try it and see what happens.
While there are no rules as to what specific weight or size blanket you need or how long to use it, there are a few things to know about application. You should never wrap your child in a weighted blanket or put it over their head. You have to allow some wiggle room for your child to be able to remove the blanket if they feel uncomfortable. Simply laying the blanket over your child is a much more comfortable and safe way to use the blanket. If your child likes the pressure of being swaddled by a blanket, you can consider clothing that applies pressure.
Why Do Weighted Blankets Work?
Weighted blankets are a trusted solution for many parents of children with special needs. This is because the weight of the blankets provide tactile pressure and provide proprioceptive input. This deep pressure sensation has a calming effect that helps to regulate our sensory systems. When receiving the sensory input from this deep pressure, the brain can release oxytocin, which helps to regulate the limbic system and reduce anxiety and stress, and dopamine, which can decrease heart rate and blood pressure! The weighted blanket has a noticeably positive effect for the many people who use them.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (202) 561-1110 (Washington, D.C. office) or (301) 577-4333 (Lanham office). Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.