Have you recently been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder? Maybe your child has been diagnosed and now you are looking into whether weighted blankets for sensory processing disorder might be helpful for yours or your child’s symptoms? Maybe you just want to learn a little bit more about how weighted blankets work for people who feel a little over sensitive.
Here we are going to discuss the benefits of these blankets and how they can have a positive impact on sensory disorder symptoms. If you want to know all about weighted blankets for sensory processing disorder, then you have come to the right place.
Today doctors and therapists recommend using weighted blankets for sensory issues in adults and kids. Weighted blanket for sensory issues suffering from Sensory Processing Disorders. Therapeutic weighted blankets are used for treating sensory issues related to all kinds of disorders, like Anxiety, PTSD, Autism, and Sensory Processing Disorder.
Disclaimer: The tips and recommendations given here are intended to be used as guidelines. Do not replace our advice for a registered health professional or therapist’s advice. It’s best to consult with a healthcare professional if you have a special condition.
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Of course, weighted blankets don’t have to be exclusively used for people who have been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder or other anxiety disorders. The process for obtaining a diagnosis alone can be long and costly which can put lots of people off seeking an official diagnosis. If you want to save yourself all that time and effort but still want to deal with your symptoms, then a weighted blanket for sensory processing disorder might be very helpful.
You might only feel like your (or your child’s) symptoms are very mild or only visible in certain situations. The beauty of weighted blankets is that you can use them in a variety of places and situations.
Studies have shown that patients who used weighted blanket felt more calm and safe, and slept better at night. The good night’s sleep then helped them in staying focused during the day. It also increased the effectiveness of therapy in some patients.
Disclaimer: The tips and recommendations given here are intended to be used as guidelines. Furthermore, we recommend not replace our advice for a registered health professional or therapist’s advice. Once again, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional if you have a special condition.
What is sensory processing disorder?
“Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD (originally called Sensory Integration Dysfunction) is a neurological disorder in which the sensory information that the individual perceives results in abnormal responses.”(STAR Institute of Sensory Processing Disorder)
In simple words, Sensory Processing Disorder is a condition in which the brain receives, and reads and reacts to the information received by the senses, differently than in normal people.
For a person with SPD, normal stimuli like light, touch or everyday noises can lead to distress, anxiety and even pain.
These patients have an active Sympathetic Nervous System that keeps them in a high-alert state most of the time. SNS controls our fight and flight responses. In these states, the body is in a more hyperactive state.
SPD is found in both kids and adults, but it is more common among kids with Autism. So far SPD has not been identified as a stand-alone disorder. It is associated with a range of other neurological disorders.
There are many areas that sensory processing disorder can affect you, more than you might think.
People that suffer from visual sensory processing disorder have trouble computing what their eyes are seeing. This can mean that they see things as blurs, shapes and sometimes colorless. They might not have enough depth perception and this can make them clumsy too.
People that suffer from auditory sensory processing disorder find noise to be overwhelming and painful, particularly in a busy room or environment. Not being able to process this can mean they don’t understand properly and it can also have a knock-on effect on their other senses. For example, if someone with auditory sensory processing disorder sits in a busy room for lunch then it may make them feel sick or dizzy.
If you suffer from tactile sensory issues then you might find that touching certain things causes you physical discomfort. Imagine that sock hem rubbing on your toes actually causing you incredible amounts of pain and you might have an idea of what someone with spd feels like every day.
Mainly, people that suffer from this problem find that smells make them feel physically sick. They aren’t able to distinguish from a nice smell or a nasty one. They just know that if it’s a strong smell then it’s likely to make them sick.
Similarly to smell, not being able to process this sense means that food can taste strange and sometimes completely tasteless. This can then lead to other eating issues and also sensory seeking in the form of eating non-foods.
Your vestibular sense is the sense that keeps your balance. As the water in your ears, it keeps you know which way is up. When you can’t process this sense, suddenly everything becomes more confusing and you become very clumsy. Add this to any one of the sense problems above and you have a pretty frustrating day ahead.
Your proprioceptive sense is similar to your vestibular in as far as it relates to movement. This sense deals with your limbs and trunk movement and if not processed properly can cause clumsiness and falls.
What is a weighted blanket?
Weighted blankets are effective tools used by doctors for helping patients with anxiety, autism, and PTSD. Their use goes way back in history. If you want to know more, click here.
“The origin of weighted blankets can be rooted in the idea of deep touch pressure in the form of weights. However, the doctors found that some weight could be calming but haven’t exactly figured out how to evenly distribute it on the body, hence, the creation of a heavy cover for the whole body.”Weighted Journal
Weighted blankets are also Sensory Weighted Blankets or Therapeutic Weighted Blankets.
There are different variations of weighted blankets and many people use them for different things. They have been known to treat a whole host of ailments such as restless leg syndrome, sleep apnoea, and insomnia. They really do have amazing benefits, not just for people with sensory and anxiety issues.
When buying a weighted blanket for sensory processing disorder, it is important to do your research and choose the one that is right for you. Even weight distribution, materials and the physical weight of the blanket itself all help to ease sensory issues and give you or your child some much-needed rest.
Some weighted blankets are made with a filling of non-toxic plastic polly-pellets. They give the blankets the perfect ‘hugging effect’ without making them too heavy.
Weighted blankets come in different sizes
The different sized blankets can be used for different purposes. Depending on your child’s behavior, you may want to take a weighted blanket out with you when you leave the house. Noisy environments such as shopping malls or busy spaces can cause a sensory overload and mean that your child can’t process all of this properly. Using a smaller weighted blanket to put over them when they are having a meltdown can ease their anxiety almost straight away.
If sleep issues are what’s troubling you then you can buy weighted blankets for sensory processing disorder in all bed sizes from single to super king.
For the safety of a child, the blanket should not be more than 10-12% of the child’s body weight. This is important that you buy your weighted blankets from a trusted and authentic seller.
Weighted blanket & sensory processing disorder
Weighted blankets are popularly used for helping people with Sensory Processing Disorder. People with SPD get anxious and upset by little things in their surroundings. This affects their sleep and most patients complain about restlessness, sleep deprivation, and insomnia. The insufficient sleep then aggravates other symptoms of SPD.
For a patient of SPD, normal stimuli can create a more hyperactive response. Some patients get upset by the slightest touch. Some are hypersensitive to light. Some might panic on loud noises. In these people, the brain fails to correctly read the received stimuli.
The weight of the blanket provides a hugging effect and helps the patients to feel calm and protected. It wraps around the whole body and applies uniform pressure. Deep-touch therapy is very effective in helping patients of SPD. It reduces their sleep-related problems immensely. As a result, well-rested patients do better during therapy and stay calm during the day.
The Science behind weighted blanket & sensory processing disorder:
The question is:
Is a weighted blanket effective?
Or is it a myth?
We already told you the history of weighted blankets. To answer this question, let’s go to science.
The weighted blankets, according to doctors, use Deep Pressure Therapy. Deep Pressure Therapy relaxes the body by putting pressure on some stress points. A weighted blanket evenly applies pressure on the whole body.
Autonomic Nervous System controls (ANS)
Our responses and reactions to stimuli. There are two types of ANS: Sympathetic Nervous System and the Parasympathetic Nervous System.
Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS)
is the body’s response to ‘fight, fear, and flight’. It produces a nervous or aggressive response due to the release of hormones that cause an increase in heart rate, and breathing. Imagine you are chased by a hound, your heart will be racing, legs will be running and you will be breathing fast.
Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS)
When you are sitting and reading a book. Your heart-rate and breathing will be normal.
Now imagine being in the state of SNS all the time. The people suffering from SPD are mostly in the reacting mode by SNS.
When something soft, and heavy makes wrap their body, they get calm and then from SNS move to PNS.
Hugs are very important to help such people feel safe. The weighted blanket creates a hug-like effect on them. This calms them and relaxes their body. In this state, the body relaxes and releases a hormone called Serotonin. Serotonin helps improve the quality of sleep.
This helps the night restlessness and sleeplessness go away. As a result, the patient and his whole family can relax and have a good night’s sleep.
You may find initially that it will take your child a while to get used to the weighted blanket on them at nighttime. This is simply because it is a new sensation for them and as such, their bodies and their brains need to adjust to this new feeling. The more a child with sensory processing disorder comes into contact with something that stimulates their senses, the less they react to it.
This just means that in order for your weighted blanket to fully work, you should give it a few nights or maybe introduce it gradually. You could keep it on for a few hours each night or wait until your child is asleep and then take it off (or vice versa). Just remember not to overload your child’s senses too quickly.
How to choose the right weighted blanket?
We asked for some tips to help you choose the right weighted blanket for you.
- According to experts, an ideal weighted blanket should weigh 10-12% of the person’s body weight.
- The blanket should be big enough to cover the whole body to create a uniform effect on the entire body.
- Using a heavier blanket for a little child can be dangerous. Always choose a weighted blanket made especially for kids.
- If you or your kid wants to use a Sensory Blanket all around the house, you can also get a weighted lap blanket that is perfect to use on a couch or chair.
It is important to factor in the quality of the materials in the blanket. The beads should be non-toxic. The wadding inside the fabric can be a variety of materials but you should look for good quality polyester.
The outer layer should be made from cotton or bamboo. You can purchase blanket covers in different designs and fabrics (including Minky which is very good for someone with sensory issues, especially sensory processing disorder).
We hope that you have found all the information in this article useful. Living with sensory processing disorder or other anxiety-related issues can be really stressful. If there is one way to relieve that, it would be a weighted blanket.
The use of a weighted blanket for sensory issues goes back to ancient days. Today, weighted blankets are available in the mainstream market. But not all heavier weighting blankets can help in treating sensory issues related to Sensory Processing Disorder. It is important to get the therapeutic sensory blanket from a trusted seller to ensure it can be effective for helping you and your loved one have a good night’s sleep.
Only then will you be able to see the full benefit of the weighted blankets for sensory processing disorder and understand how they can ease your signs and symptoms. If you are looking to get a good night’s sleep or a way to calm your anxieties, then these blankets will be worth every cent.