How to Make Homemade Weighted Blankets for Children with Autism
Weighted blankets are a great addition to any home where a child with autism resides. Pediatric occupational therapists recommend the usage of weighted objects, particularly weighted blankets in stimulating a calm and safe environment for autistic children. They are used in schools, at home, and during therapy sessions.
Autism is a genetic disorder that disrupts the lives of both parent and child. It is also affected by environmental factors, such as pollution in large cities, which means that country living is probably best if you know that autism is a common occurrence in the family. Watching your weight while ensuring a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy can also help lower risk of having children on the spectrum.
Christmas is here and you have many things to consider:
- Should I buy my children and family members books as presents?
- What types of gifts are most appropriate for my autistic children?
- Should I take my autistic child to see Santa?
- Should I invest in an iPad or similar tablet?
And then it clicks. You can make a weighted blanket for your child at home. There are many ways that you can take on this project from home. But why should you make it in the first place?
According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, weighted blankets are used to facilitate self-organization and positive change in behavior at the moment. Weighted blankets and vests have been used by therapists for years to help children diagnosed with learning disorders and pervasive developmental disorders. Initially in 1999, these items were used with adults in the mental health care system to help with one's ability to self-nurture, increase coping skills and reality orientation, as well as actively engage in self-care. Over time, health care professionals realized that there was less need for seclusion and restraints when weighted blankets or vests were used.
Why are weighted blankets used?
- As a grounding technique
- To help soothe frazzled nerves
- To help the body relax
- As a distraction from sensory overload
- To comfort the self and help with self-nurture
- To act like a hug, providing a safe and secure feeling
- As a means of self-control (NEVER to be used as a restraint)
- Allows individual to sit or lie down, automatically reducing the weight of the stress and frustration causing the problems of the moment
Children using the weighted blankets have different preferences. Some like it to be warm, some want the tactile sensation of fleece or something soft, some want extra weight and pressure, while others still like either being wrapped up in it or sleeping under it as a cover/duvet.
Note: Whereas there is some sort of prescribed "20-minute rule" to follow, there is no research to support this and therapists suggest using the weighted blanket for as long as the children find it tolerable or want it on or wrapped about them. Adults can take up to 30 pounds of weight in the blanket without a problem. It is generally suggested to have the blanket weight be approximately 10% of the person’s body weight who will be using it plus 1 lb.
Remember that there are no quick fixes. Thinking thus should be actively discouraged. There are, however, techniques that one can use to ease the life of those on the spectrum and those who work with them day and night.
So how do you make your own weighted blanket?
There are many ways to make a weighted blanket.
- Take 2 yards of cotton fabric (chosen for breathability) for the top and 2 yards for the bottom of the blanket.
- Measure out evenly how many pockets you wish to have, mark them from the inside of the fabric and put the pieces together before you begin sewing. Make sure the pockets are small enough to be able to evenly distribute the weight and large enough to be able to fill in the weight you want it to be.
- You can use rice, corn, or beans if you have made little pockets with zippers or Velcro that you can pull the material out from. You should use pellets if you want it to be machine washable.
- If you are using pellets, fill up the pockets and sew them up. You never have to worry about taking them out again. If you are using foods mentioned, put them in bags and evenly distribute among the pockets you have made. Make sure that the weight in each pocket is the same across the board.
- Finish up your blanket, add trims around the edges if you want or any decorations on or around it and present to your autistic child. Chances are, if they picked out the fabric with you especially, they will absolutely love it.
There are different ways to make a weighted blanket. You just have to figure out your own autistic child`s needs first.