Understanding weighted blankets
Anxiety and sleep disturbances are very common in children with autism. They are sensitive to external environment and get affected easily. Parents can user various techniques and methods to help the children feel calmer and less anxious. Today we will talk about 'weighted blankets' that are said to help in coping with anxiety and stress.
What are weighted blankets?
Weighted blankets also known as gravity blankets are blankets that have been made to be heavier. The blankets are filled with hypoallergenic, non-toxic polypropylene pellets or glass beads.The weight of the blanket provides a pressure on the body and gives a sensation of being protected and safe.
These blankets can be made of cotton, muslin or other fabrics as well.
The weight of the blanket is typically 10% of the ideal body weight for adults. The weight for children is lesser and can depend on instruction by a pediatrician. A very heavy blanket is usually not used for kids due to safety concern. The blankets can come in different sizes and can be used as per the needs of the user.
Doctors, occupational therapists may prescribe the use of weighted blankets to adults or children who have severe sensory issues, anxiety issues and are not able to sleep properly.
The weighted blankets can help the children with developmental disorders in class or sessions as they help them feel calmer and steady. We use them very often when a child is being taught some activity as they help in improving focus and concentration. Dr Dhara Desai, Occupational Therapist, Prayatna Early Intervention Program. .
Here are some benefits of using weighted blankets.
- The weight of the blanket makes the user feel supported and helps remain calm.
- It is used often to help children with ADHD focus as it keeps them rooted.
- The blanket helps children stay still and not fidget around.
- The blankets are beneficial in coping with sensory processing disorder.
- They also help in reducing anxiety and depression.
- The pressure of the blanket helps the user feel relaxed and helps those who feel stressed.
- Weighted blankets have been found to benefit those with insomnia or sleep problems.
- People with chronic pain conditions or restless leg syndrome can also use these blankets.
There are several other benefits of weighted blankets and may vary among users. For children or adults with travel anxiety, they can provide the much needed comfort and make it easier to travel. People who experience panic attacks or PTSD have also been found to feel calmer and less stressed with the use of weighted blankets.
"Using the blankets has helped my son stay calmer and get better sleep at night. The change took some time but we have seen a lot of improvement, says Radha Kishore, parent.
The ideal weight of the blanket and when and how to use it will depend on the age and need of the user. Parents can consult experts to get the information. However, it is also important that users should not become over dependent on the blankets and only use them for temporary relief.