When it comes to the research being conducted on autism, it seems that everyday reveals something new. Some experts say, sleeping with stuffed animals can be comforting for children with behavioral issues. There seems to be new techniques and preventive measures that parents can take to help their autistic child. One of the newest crazes are weighted blankets. These heavy blankets provide a calming sensation to children with behavioral issues such as autism, specifically Asperger syndrome. Sleeping on a natural bedding such as botanical latex and using a weighted blanket will ensure your child with autism gets the best night of sleep. There are many different types of weighted blankets out there, let’s try to find the best ones and why they will work for your kids.
What is a weighted blanket?
Weighted blankets, like The Magic Blanket, have shown to generate proprioceptive input on our bodies. For many people, this input causes the brain to release neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, among others. These neurotransmitters released by the brain have naturally calming effects, which have proven to be beneficial for people experiencing sensory integration disorder, anxiety, stress, Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD, and Rett Syndrome.
Weighted blankets can come in all different shapes and sizes. They have fabrics ranging from cotton and fleece to soft chenille and minky in a wide range of colors and patterns to choose from. The range of sizes to choose from start at the 4 pound “mini” all the way up to an 18 pound twin.
The 6 pound blanket is generally a good size to start out with. While it doesn’t sound like a lot of weight, you can actually really notice it. Perhaps the best part about the weighted blankets is that they’re completely washable thanks to a filling of polystyrene pellets, “microbeads”.
Make sure you know what is inside the weighted blanket you’re going to buy. There are some very inexpensive blankets on the market filled with things like stone, aquarium gravel, corn, rice, lead shot, etc. that will not be useful for long. The “microbeads” mentioned above are a polypropylene material and there are also different types of them on the market, some are recycled from things like old milk jugs and car batteries, which should never be used in a weighted blanket. Not all poly pellets have a high temperature rating.
Weighted blankets are not just for kids. Many adults (even those without Asperger’s) find comfort in the weight of the blankets while sleeping at night. In addition to smaller blankets for children many blankets are available in twin, full/double, queen and king size, and also offer custom sizes if requested.
Many hospitals and long-term care facilities are now using weighted blankets. Numerous psychiatric facilities that are working on restraint reduction programs are using the DreamCatcher blanket as a major tool to meet their goals in reducing restraint use on their adult population.
The choice is up to you on which weighted blanket you purchase, like any purchase, make sure you do your research before buying!