A weighted blanket as the name suggests, weigh heavier than your normal blanket. It can weigh anywhere between 4 to 30 pounds. For years, people of special needs community, such as Asperger’s syndrome, anxiety, ADHD, OCD, etc., have been using these blankets and benefiting from it; however, it has only been a couple of years since these blankets have gained popularity among people other than special need people because of its diverse benefits.
The material what uses inside the blanket determines the weight of these blankets. Usually, manufacturers use glass beads, plastic pellets or steel bearings for the internal filling and add the required weight. The outer fabric is soft, itch-free and is generally 100% cotton or mink fabric.
You can find different types of weighted blankets in the market, and before buying one, you need to do proper research and also should have an appropriate understanding of what purpose you want to use this blanket. Weighted blankets come in customized as well as one-size-fits-all version, so pick one which suits your needs.
One of the areas where these blankets have been extremely helpful is while dealing with symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome. In this article, we are going to explain how and why is it almost essential that you buy yourself or your family members a weighted blanket now and how is it an excellent investment.
What is Asperger’s disorder and how does a weighted blanket help?
People with Asperger’s syndrome exhibit autism-like behavior and having difficulty in communication as well as socializing. Asperger is a sub-type of autism and is not specifically an autistic disorder. People suffering from this disorder have normal cognitive development and speech. People suffering from this behavioral disorder start showing symptoms from when they are as young as 2 years old, and it lasts for the entire lifetime. Some of the symptoms include learning disability, anxiety, anger, aggression, tic, repetitive movements of words or actions, social isolation and sensitivity to specific sound. Often it is seen that some parallel issues are existing as well like OCD, ADHD/ADD and anxiety disorder.
While there is no single and definite cure for Asperger’s syndrome, various tools are in use to ease the symptoms such as speech therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, training of parents and medications for regulating the patient’s mood and anxiety. These therapies are usually aimed to improve the social and communication skills of the patients.
One of the therapies highly advised by the therapists is the occupational therapy which aims at desensitizing the person to the spurs that tend to provoke the subject. In it, medical professionals employ various techniques like the deep pressure technique in order to invoke a sense of calmness in their patients. And what could be better than a weighted blanket to apply deep and equal pressure throughout the person’s body?
Use of a weighted blanket for Asperger’s help in releasing the hormone Oxycontin in the body. This hormone is also sometimes referred to as the happy hormone because of its release when we are in a comfortable, relaxed mood or with our loved ones.
Studies have shown that the deep pressure therapy applied by these blankets help in comforting the kids as well as adults suffering from Asperger’s syndrome and easing out their symptoms. Children who have Asperger’s are much calmer than those who have autism, yet this therapy can significantly benefit both.
The weight of the blanket activates the receptors present on the person’s body which further stimulates the neurotransmitters present in the brain of the subject. It would eventually help them feel exultant, protected, and secure. Also, the blanket provides your kid with an immediate sensation of a warm, loving hug.
Hugging also releases Oxycontin in our bodies and provide us with a feeling of ease and calmness. Using a blanket for Asperger’s also helps in lessen the emotional outbursts of the kids as it calms their mood. It will help in improving his learning ability of the kid and also assist them in controlling the subjects’ emotions better.
As an adult, you are supposed to have better control of your mood and emotions. Adults living with Asperger’s syndrome tend to live normal lives, but often they feel confused while trying to understand other people’s actions, feelings, and languages. Rather than exploring the emotions, they focus more on logic and analysis. It can make them look unfriendly to a stranger and create problems while socializing, dating or making friends. It can lead them feeling depressed, anxious and lonely. Also, insomnia and sleep deprivation is a common problem that these adults face regularly.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t live a normal or happy life. By making proper lifestyle changes and taking help of therapy, one can live a normal life with Asperger’s. And one of these changes is owning and using an Asperger’s weighted blanket. These blankets would help you sleep better and would also put an end to your anxious thoughts. They provide you with a sense of comfort and love and ease your symptoms, making you more confident and social. It is a misconception that weighted blankets only benefit the kids, the adults can benefit a lot from its use as well.
What are some treatments for children suffering from Asperger’s syndrome?
Your child’s therapist might recommend various ways to help ease the Asperger’s symptoms. These treatments, when combined with the right approach and support from the parents, can help kids in handling their emotional as well as social challenges in a better way. Some of the therapy that might work for your kid are:
Cognitive behavioral therapy:
CBT applied on the assumption that not any external factor but our thoughts are responsible for the mental problems. So if a kid is having anxiety issues due to particular distress, the child can effectively relax by adjusting the way it matters. Initially, many therapists believed that CBT was not for autism spectrum issues, but studies have proved this was wrong.
Sensory integration therapy:
Studies have found that sensory integration therapy is very useful in improving the daily function of kids with Asperger’s. Kids with Asperger’s face trouble in processing sensory information like taste, smell, sound, and movement. The sensory integration therapy uses play and fun activities to train brain on how to react to sound, touch, sight, and movement.
Not only the kids, but their parents also need assistance in how to help and treat children with Asperger’s. The person who interacts most of the time with the child will undergo the therapy and who assist the subject and master the treatment.
Educational therapy can help kids to face difficulties while paying attention in classrooms, reading or writing. It will also assist them in improving their communication skills and make them better in socializing and interacting with other people.
Asperger’s syndrome is sometimes also known as high functioning autism. Stress and anxiety are common symptoms of Asperger’s which later triggers angry emotions. Tantrums, meltdowns, and rage are the universal nature we can find with the subjects, who have Asperger’s syndrome. Anger management therapy can help kids, as well as adults, cope with their anger issues.
We all already know that no medication can treat a person suffering from Asperger’s syndrome. Research shows that almost 40 to 80% of children suffering from Asperger’s have provided some complementary therapy by their pediatrician during the early stage of their life. These complementary therapies include soothing like massage, yoga, art or music, and chelation therapy. Using a weighted blanket for Asperger’s is part of the complementary therapy. It has proved to be calming and relaxing for kids with Asperger’s and people have vouched for its benefits and are very happy with the outcome of the results.
What are some medical benefits of weighted blankets other than using for Asperger’s syndrome?
Apart from Asperger’s syndrome, weighted blankets can also help in the following cases:
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Restless leg syndrome
- Sensory processing disorder (SPD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- It helps in managing your OCD’s symptoms and help you feel less aggressive.
- Seizure disorder
- Parkinson’s disease
What are the benefits of weighted blankets for people suffering from Asperger’s syndrome?
- Production of serotonin in the body:
The blanket helps to produce serotonin hormone in our body. The chemical will help you to reap a feeling of relaxation and stabilizing your mood. Also at night, the pineal gland converts this chemical into melatonin which is a natural sleep inducer, thus helping the patient to have a peaceful night and relaxed sleep.
- Improvement in the transition time:
Transitioning from one activity to another can prove to be difficult for people suffering from Asperger’s syndrome. For instance, children coming back from recess have a problem focusing in class and toning down their excitement. These blankets can use by teachers for a few minutes to make them feel relaxed and helping them to transition into work time.
- Improvement in classroom performance:
We have already discussed how the weighted blankets indirectly improve the performance of the children by making them feel more relaxed, easing their anxiety and improving their sleep pattern. But these blankets can also be directly used to enhance your kid’s performance in class.
Various studies have found that these blankets help to reduce self-simulator behavior in children such as nervously rocking or fidgeting. It can help them make feel less distracted and focus better on their work. Deep pressure therapy also has a significant impact when it comes to the on-task behavior of children related to fine motor skills such as writing.
Better sensory control:
Children with Asperger’s syndrome more often found suffering from sensory processing disorder (SPD). These blankets help to calm the nervous system’s over-stimulation and make the subject feel more relaxed and calm.
Are Asperger’s and ADHD symptoms similar?
Most times parents confuse Asperger’s for ADHD because some of the similar symptoms that they share like impulsiveness, social awkwardness, lack of focus and difficulty to manage emotional imbalances, etc. Both are a subset of autism, so it is common for parents to get confused. However, these two are not the same, and so their treatments are not the same. If you doubt that your kid might have Asperger’s or ADHD, we would advise you to make an appointment with his pediatrician. Please make a note about his behavior and be patient. Self-diagnose or assumptions to find a cure for the issue won’t work out because there is a subtle line difference between the two diseases and it is often confusing even a professional.
You need to work with your doctor and follow his instructions. But be it Asperger’s or ADHD, weighted blankets have been found beneficial for easing both these symptoms. Diagnosing whether your kid has Asperger’s or ADHD can take a long time, but you can always help him by introducing weighted blankets in his life.
How does anxiety and stress of Asperger’s affect children?
According to a study by Indiana University Resource Center for Autism, around 40% of children with some form of autism has anxiety as one of its symptoms. One of the effects of anxiety that we would like to discuss and is highly relevant here is sleep deprivation. Not only stress and anxiety can cause sleep disorder problem in children; it can worsen the existing one. Sleep deprivation has its own effects. Kids who do not have enough sleep at night may have the following:
- Difficulty in waking up in the morning
- Highly emotional behavior
- Increase in their appetite
- Being excessive talker
- Difficulty in concentration
- Difficulty in falling asleep in the night.
Weighted blankets can help your kids immensely with the sleep deprivation issue. Some of the benefits of deep pressure therapy of these blankets are:
- Increased happiness
- Better sleep
- No intermittently waking up during sleeping hours
- Fewer self-injury cases
- Better social interactions
- The sense of calmness that usually lasts up to 5 hours after the therapy
- Being less hypersensitive to touch.
Should I purchase a customized weighted blanket or go for one-size-fits-all for patients suffering from Asperger’s?
One thing we can say for sure is that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to the weighted blanket. While purchasing the weighted blanket for your kid, it would be better if you can consult with the occupational therapist or pediatrician. Some people feel that children grow fast and hence buying a larger blanket is preferable. Using a weighted blanket heavier than recommended can be dangerous for your kid.
Asperger’s kids usually suffer from anxiety and may feel claustrophobic and suffocated under the weight of that blanket. We have seen kids using the same blanket for years comfortably, and hence the idea of kids outgrowing a blanket is wrong. Kids suffering from Asperger’s can may be hypersensitive to a specific type of touch. Thus it is also essential that you understand which kind of fabric for the blanket your kid will prefer.
The first thing you need to understand before purchasing a weighted blanket is that what exactly are your kid’s needs. Is your child okay with a deep touch blanket? Would your child want something with extra comfort or bigger in size? What is the size of the blanket would be comfortable for your child? Once you are clear about the above questions, you can go for the weighted blanket shopping.
When it comes to adults, no particular magic formula can ensure that what weighted blanket is going to work for you. It’s all about trying until you find your perfect match. Hence buying a one size fit all blanket does not make much sense here. Some people like the lighter weighted blankets while there are others who prefer, the heavier version. As already mentioned above, it is merely a matter of choice.
Will the weighted blanket help for toddlers suffering from Asperger’s?
Let us be very clear. Weighted blankets are not for kids under 2 years old. One of the highest risks for using a weighted blanket for a kid under 2-year-old is sudden death syndrome. It happens when a child dies during sleep without any explainable reason. So when we refer here to the term toddler, we imply kids of 2 to 3 years old. Kids suffering from Asperger’s syndrome start exhibiting symptoms as young as 2 years old. It means they will face difficulties in sleeping.
Studies have proved that weighted blankets help in lowering the production of EDA in the body. EDA or electrodermal activity is produced by the human body to create variation in the skin’s electrical characteristics. Lower EDA implies less superfluous movement during sleep which further means deeper and better quality of sleep. By using a weighted blanket for your toddler, the child will have a good and peaceful night sleep without unnecessarily waking up in the middle of the night. It will lead to a better morning and a great day ahead.
However, it is important to note that a toddler between 2 to 3 years of age usually weighs around 20 to 30 pounds. Therefore, the recommended weight of the blanket should not be anything more than 5 pounds. It is not easy to find a seller that sells that light blankets. You need to do your research properly and then only finalize the purchase.
Weighted blankets are a blessing for people suffering from Asperger’s syndrome. They ease the symptoms, relax you, make you less anxious and help you have a good night’s sleep. These blankets benefits have scientifically proved, and numerous therapists and pediatricians recommend weighted blankets for Asperger’s. So if you are in the lookout for a weighted blanket for Asperger’s consider all those information, and select a best-weighted blanket that can meet the purpose.