Autism spectrum disorder, often shorted to autism, is a developmental disorder in the brain which affects 1 in 45 children, ages 3-17. This disorder is a combination of conditions, which affect speech, social skills, and behavior. Children with autism often have trouble communicating verbally, making eye contact, being physically touched, or interacting with loud noises. Not all cases of autism are the same, and not all children exhibit the same symptoms.
There is no cure for autism, or many of the symptoms associated with it, although parents can use different types of therapy to alleviate some symptoms and make their child’s life easier. One modern treatment is a weighted blanket.
How the Blanket Helps
Weighted blankets help deliver a form of deep touch sensory therapy to children with autism, which calms them and makes them feel secure in their environment. The blankets are designed to deliver evenly distributed weight through small pockets of micro-fill beads, or other weighted objects, which are used as stuffing.
When a child lays beneath the weighted blanket, or wraps it around his or her shoulders, it delivers the sensation of a warm hug without the need for physical intimacy. For a child who has trouble touching others and interacting socially, this simulated hug can go a long way to delivering some of the physical sensation needed to promote healthy thoughts and a calm mind and body.
Weighted Blankets and Anxiety
A symptom associated with autism is anxiety, because children who suffer from autism can easily be overloaded by sensory materials and other interactions. Studies have proven that weighted blankets help to decrease levels of anxiety and increase the natural production of serotonin, which increases positive moods.
If your child has difficulties with anxiety, a weighted blanket may be the perfect tool to introduce calmness and security to tense situations.
Weighted Vests and Other Tools
It isn’t only weighted blankets that work to counteract some of the anxiety symptoms associated with autism. You can also purchase vests, lap throws, shoulder wraps, and more. These smaller, more easily transferred items work well in the school system for children who require sensory therapy, not only at bedtime, but all day.
You may also want to consider purchasing a small weighted blanket, like one designed for a baby or toddler, to use with your school aged child on the go. He or she can drape it over legs, shoulders, or back when feeling overwhelmed.
Weighted Blankets at Bedtime
Bedtime can be a difficult time for any child, but children with autism can have extra trouble getting to bed and falling asleep. Weighted blankets have shown great success in combating fears of bedtime, and making the bedtime process more enjoyable for parents and children with autism.
When your child climbs beneath a weighted blanket, the deep touch sensation promotes feelings of safety and comfort. Even after you’ve tucked your child in and left them alone in their room, the weighted blanket continues to feel like somebody is there with them.
The weight in an anxiety blanket makes it easier for children to focus on just one thing as they fall asleep. This takes their focus off any other senses or worries they may have while trying to fall asleep at night. A better sleep makes for an easier morning and day, facing whatever new challenges may arise.
Transitions and Autism
Nobody likes change, but it can be especially difficult for autistic children to deal with new changes, especially big ones in their lives. If you plan on travelling to a vacation home for the summer, you’re moving to a new town, or you’re going through a divorce which will cause disruptions to your child’s normal daily life, he or she may find it difficult to cope. A weighted blanket can help with these transitions and reduce anxiety.
Your weighted blanket can travel in the car, go from home to home, and offer some familiarity in new surroundings. This will make the transition process less disruptive to your child.
For more information on weighted blankets for autism, ADHD, and other special needs, visit our main website at www.anxietyblanket.com. You can also check to our blog for regularly updated material regarding weighted blankets and their many uses and benefits.