Weighted blankets have been used as therapy tools for a while. Many parents have recognized these blankets’ calming effect on children with autism and sensory issues. The science behind them is called deep pressure. This term refers to the feeling of gentle, distributed weight on the body. The purpose behind weighted blankets is to make them a little heavy to apply firm pressure. Weighted blankets have many benefits, particularly for helping children get more restful sleep. Let’s go over how weighted blankets can benefit your child.
It is very common for children on the autism spectrum to experience sleeping problems, so many parents are thrilled about how much weighted blankets can help. Due to the consistent deep pressure they apply on the body, weighted blankets encourage the brain to release serotonin, an important chemical that helps the body feel calm and safe. The release of serotonin makes the child feel more relaxed and creates melatonin in the body. Melatonin is the chemical that makes you feel sleepy and regulates the body’s sleep cycle. Unfortunately, some children with autism cannot produce enough melatonin levels, so they struggle with maintaining a regular and natural sleep schedule.
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Weighted blankets also promote the production of dopamine in addition to serotonin. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that makes you feel good when your actions are rewarded. This naturally improves a child’s mood and promotes relaxation. A heavy blanket gives your child the feeling of being safe enough to release their emotions. Deep pressure stimulation tricks the brain to think they are being hugged, producing feelings of love, safety, and connection.
Improves Focus in School
Weighted blankets, directly and indirectly, influence your child’s classroom performance. A healthy sleep schedule will indirectly improve your child’s performance in the classroom. Studies have proved that the consistent deep pressure from weighted blankets directly improves children’s in-seat behavior, attention, and task completion. Science has also shown that deep pressure therapy can enhance fine motor skills, such as writing and drawing.
Makes Transitions Easier
Children with autism often experience difficulties with transitions when they have to stop a particular task and move on to a different one. For instance, getting your child to bed is a challenging transition time for any parent. With weighted blankets, you can try laying it on your child as they read a book on the couch; this can become a symbol that represents it’s time to get ready for bed. In fact, some teachers now use weighted blankets in the classroom when children return from recess. By allowing children to use the blankets for 5 to 10 minutes, teachers can help children to transition into a regular classroom schedule.
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 (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.