Weighted blankets have been used to provide relief and comfort to children and adults with certain psychiatric disorders. However, the benefits of using a blanket like this can vary from one individual to another.
Sensory Relief for Autism, ADHD. Calming and improves sleep.
What Is a Weighted Blanket?
A weighted blanket is simply a blanket that contains inner pockets or an inner liner filled with plastic pellets or beads, similar to the filling found in stuffed toys like Beanie Babies. Weighted blankets come in different sizes such as twin, full and queen or small, medium and large. Weights typically range from 3 to 25 pounds.
Reasons to Use Weighted Blankets
According to OT (Occupational Therapy) Innovations, therapeutic use of weight is a common treatment option for both children and adults suffering from conditions such as autism, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), depression, anxiety and other types of mood disorders. In particular, those who suffer from SPD have a difficult time processing and reacting to the information coming in through the body's senses. Weight and deep pressure applied to muscles and joints provides a calming sensation, helping the central nervous system in processing and integrating tactile information and body awareness. Weighted blankets are often compared to swaddling an infant.
Use of a weighted blanket is usually prescribed by an occupational therapist. While sites that sell these blankets offer guidelines about how much weight is recommended for different body types, you should still get the advice of a doctor or therapist before purchasing one.
Where to Buy
Weighted blankets are not mass produced like ordinary blankets. Most are made to order and many of the companies who sell them are family-owned and operated. Due to the effort and time it takes to make a weighted blanket, these items can be quite costly when compared to ordinary blankets. All blankets are machine washable and designed to withstand repeated washings.
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Cozy Calm was founded by a woman named Eileen Parker, who has been diagnosed with autism and SPD. Eileen designed her first weighted blanket for herself, which inspired her to go into business making these blankets to help others. In addition to blankets, she offers weighted lap pads and shoulder wraps. You can choose from a great selection of decorative polyester and cotton fabrics; however, these blankets are priced a little higher than most.
Sensa Calm was started by husband and wife team Robert and Donna Chambers. Donna began making a weighted blanket for her autistic grandson in her church's quilting room. This project also inspired a business of making weighted blankets, vests and belts and has grown to a team of nine women and four men who live in the same community and share a similar Christian-based faith. The blankets come in three standard sizes and are made from 100 percent cotton fabric in over 60 different patterns, including Disney and cartoon characters, floral, tropical, sports, and solid colors.
The owner of Sensory Goods started the business in 2006 to help his two children who had recently been diagnosed with autism. The family began making therapy products at home and as demand grew, so did the inventory of products, which now includes weighted blankets, animals, vests and belts in addition to sensory swings and toys. Blankets come in four sizes with your choice of over 150 different patterns and colors. You can also choose between plastic pellets or glass beads for the weighted fill material.
The Magic Blanket
The Magic Blanket began as The Original Bean Blanket in 1998. The name change was inspired by letters from customers saying how helpful the blankets were for their children, who called them their "magic blankets." This company carries an inventory of weighted blankets which are made using heavy machinery with industrial-strength thread. You can choose from fabrics such as chenille, fleece, cotton or flannel.
Try Before You Buy
Weighted blankets come highly recommended by many parents who have successfully used them on their autistic children and by occupational therapists who use them on patients. (You can read customer testimonials on sites like The Magic Blanket.) However, Occupational Therapy Innovations warns that the use of weighted blankets is a very individual process and may not work for every person. Therefore, you may want to consider making your own weighted blanket. This may be more cost effective while allowing you to experiment with different weights until you find the amount that works best for you or your child.