Autism has been on the rise in the United States and around the world. Between 2000 and 2010, its prevalence jumped about 120% from 1 in every 150 kids to 1 in every 68. For boys, that is 1 in every 42 making it five time more likely in boys than girls. Today, there are more than 3.5 million people in the U.S. living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For many of these people, ASD is accompanied by sensory processing disorders. For that reason, research has been done on weighted blankets and autism.
What is a weighted blanket?
This is a blanket with pockets for weights of various sizes. It has also been called a “hug blanket.” The weights can be placed where the user is most comfortable having them. Some weighted blankets for children are just made rom a cover that is filled with Beanie Baby type beads or other material that adds weight. These can often be comforting for children who suffer from anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism and other issues. Weighted blankets for autism are a common way to help alleviate some of the stress that accompanies ASD. When the weight is added, it encourages the brain to release neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, that calm the nerves. The therapeutic effects are similar to the response our bodies have to deep massage. This is also the basis for weighted clothing such as the Thunder Shirt, which is used to keep dogs calm during a storm.
Weighted blankets for adults have been developed to treat a wide variety of conditions and disorders such as fibromyalgia, restless leg syndrome, PTSD, insomnia and pretty much any disorder that causes anxiety. The best part of a weighted blanket is that is aids rest naturally.
Most children who suffer from ASD have problems sleeping, it estimated that over 90% experience problems getting to or staying sleep. The link between weighted blankets and autism has been studied. Most parents with autistic children prefer to use the blankets rather than turn to medication. Children and adults who use weighted blankets can become pretty attached to them.
Weighted blankets typically cost between $60 and $175 each. They come in a wide variety of fabrics and materials so there should be one for just about every taste and preference. Because people develop such an attachment, the blanket should be made from a durable material. This is especially important for autistic children who do not deal well with changes to their routine or environment. There are weighted blankets for toddlers, children and adults so they can be used for a lifetime of stress relief.
Many parents do not want to medicate their children unless they absolutely have to. This is one thing that really sets this treatment apart, it produces a calming effect without medication. When considering weighted blankets and autism, the individual’s response to the blanket is the key factor but parents can feel good knowing that they can try it and there really is no down side. No one who has used one had a negative response to it.