Understand the Purpose & Benefits of Weighted Blankets for Autistic Children
Weighted blankets have proven to be beneficial for adults, kids, even pets, for a variety of reasons. Not only are there many options to choose from when it comes to style and color, but the weight adds a sense of calm, comfort and relaxation.
Originally, weighted blankets were used by occupational therapists and doctors for therapeutic purposes in children. They seemed to be helpful with self-regulation and sleeping issues, ADHD, sensory processing disorder and also in kids with autism.
This is why a weighted blanket for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)) work so well. Because some people with autism have extreme sensitivity to touch, light, and sound, a weighted blanket can help to minimize that sensitivity and soothe the anxiety that comes along with those feelings. Weighted blankets also help in getting a good night’s sleep. Who couldn’t benefit from that?!
Keep reading to find out more about autism and weighted blankets and why weighted blankets have benefits for autism.
Do weighted blankets work for autism?
When it comes to helping our children, most parents will do anything they can, which usually means starting with a google search! If you’ve found yourself at the computer typing in: weighted blanket autism…. or weighted blanket for autistic child, it’s likely that the idea of a weighted blanket sounds appealing, you’re just not convinced. But weighted blankets do help alleviate some of the stress associated with too much sensory stimulation – like noise and touch – making weighted blankets a great option to help soothe your autistic child. The weight/pressure from a weighted blanket can give your child a sense of relaxation and comfort, which is why weighted blankets can be good for autism.
How do weighted blankets work for autism?
Weighted blankets offer light to deep pressure which can create a feeling of comfort and calm, like a hug. That gentle, weighted feeling can reduce cortisol – a stress hormone - and increase levels of dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine regulates mood and muscle movement, while serotonin can help you feel happier, calmer and more focused.
Some kids with ASD however, do not like the feeling of being touched or hugged, so a weighted blanket can offer the same sensation without the physical, person to person contact that can sometimes be triggering.
Either way, weighted blankets can help children relax when they are overstimulated, making a weighted blanket for your autistic child a great choice.
Why are weighted blankets good for autism?
Because weighted blankets are around 10% of your child’s body weight, that slight bit of pressure that an autism blanket provides, can create a calming sensation for your kid to help her relax and stay calm.
As a general rule, for a 50-lb child, a weighted blanket should be no more than 5-lbs, for your 60-lb kid, the weighted blanket should be no more than 6-lbs and so on. The older your child gets, there is some wiggle room to go up or down between 1-2 lbs depending on their comfort level. But it’s the pressure from the weighted blanket that can help to relieve stress and anxiety for kids with ASD. Weighted blankets also help them to focus and get a good night’s sleep!
What are the general benefits of weighted blankets?
Everyone from adults to children, even our beloved pets, have fallen for weighted blankets these days. It’s because the right weighted blanket can help to reduce anxiety, overstimulation, and increase feelings of calm and serenity. Weighted blankets are also used to help achieve quality sleep in infants, toddlers, and grown-ups. Thanks to all of these benefits, it’s no wonder everybody wants one!
What are the benefits of weighted blankets for kids with autism?
Weighted blankets work so well for kids with autism that they have also been known as “autism blankets.” They are comprised of safe materials that apply a light to deep pressure stimulation when worn. Weighted blankets help put our nervous systems to rest, creating an overall sense of relaxation and calm.
Because many children with autism and ASD have sensory processing issues that can cause anxiety - particularly when it comes to sleep - weighted blankets help to reduce stress hormones and increase “good hormones” like serotonin, melatonin, and oxytocin. These not only help you feel good, but also help to boost sleep and give a feeling of warmth and security.
Do weighted blankets help with Stimming?
When a child you love and care for has autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder, chances are they display repetitive and/or unusual movement and/or noises. This is called stimming and it is a way for some children with ASD to cope with overwhelming situations like loud noises and busy/new environments. The repetitive and sometimes compulsive action of stimming can be a release of feeling stressed. Those movements and/or noises actually help the child cope. When stimming occurs, it’s possible that a weighted blanket will help soothe the urge to stim, since weighted blankets act as a calming tool for anxiety disorders.