Why Children with Autism Love Weighted Blankets

by Madelyn Grossman

Why Children with Autism Love Weighted Blankets

The CDC now estimates that 1 in every 68 children is born with some form of autism. They may struggle with communication or repeat certain behaviors. They may get upset when there is a change in routine, or have a hard time in social situations.

Although there is no cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), there are natural ways to ease your child’s symptoms.

For years, occupational therapists have recognized the therapeutic power of weighted blankets. These blankets provide sensory input which calms the body’s natural “fight or flight” response.

What is a Weighted Blanket?

Designed to weigh 10% of your child’s body weight, weighted blankets put gentle pressure on your child’s sensory receptors.

This Deep Pressure Therapy(DPT) calms the nervous system by triggering the release of serotonin and dopamine. These “happy hormones” not only elevate mood but give your child’s brain the chance to organize sensory input.

This organizational effect on the brain puts your child in “just the right state” to focus on the task at hand and reduce sensory seeking behaviors.

Child Cover with Weighted BlanketWhen serotonin levels increase, melatonin production also increases. This hormone tells the body when it is time to go to sleep. When melatonin production is high, sleep is deeper and more restful.

What are the Therapeutic Benefits?

Whether used at therapy, school, or at home, weighted blankets have been proven to soothe ASD symptoms. Therapeutic benefits include:

• Improving Transition Times. Children with Autism have a hard time transitioning from high to low energy activities. This is especially noticeable when they come home from school, need to start homework, or before bed time. The calming effect from the blanket gives your child the chance to settle down before starting a new activity.

• Better Classroom Experience.DPT has an organizational effect on the brain. This effect reduces unwanted sensory seeking behaviors, such as fidgeting. Without these unwanted behaviors, your child is able to sit and focus in class.

• Improved Spatial Awareness. The weight of the blanket allows their child to feel their movements, giving them a better understanding of the location of their body.

• Deeper Sleep. DPT calms the nervous system by increasing serotonin production. This hormone elevates your child’s mood and calm’s anxiety before bed. Serotonin is also used in the production of the body’s sleep hormone, melatonin.When melatonin production is high, sleep is deeper and more restful.

Weighted blankets are a great, natural supplement to an existing treatment plan. Let us know how your child has benefited!

Madelyn Grossman
Madelyn Grossman


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