Monday, December 28, 2009

Ode to a Weighted Blanket

There are lots of scams out there targeting parents of autistic kids.  A desperate parent can be lured into trying all sorts of quackery and questionable treatments in an effort to help her child - hyperbaric oxygen therapy, mercury chelation, cycles of intravenous immunoglobulin.* 

But let me tell you about a simple treatment we swear by: a weighted blanket.

Individuals with sensory integration issues often have trouble feeling where they are in space.  Applying extra deep pressure touch stimulation releases serotonin in the brain, resulting in a natural feeling of calm.

When Ryan is having an inconsolable meltdown at home and all my usual tricks fail, I lay a five-pound lap-size blanket over him, and he quiets down instantly.  He could be wailing, screaming, dripping with snot, completely unresponsive to reason, and as soon as the blanket touches him, he can breathe.  He has been known to go from manic to asleep in five minutes flat because of this blanket.

The blanket is magical.  All hail the power of the blanket!

* For more information on discredited treatments, please see Autism Watch.


  1. I wonder if this is the same reason babies love to be swaddled? (And I like to sleep under a heavy quilt no matter the temperature?) Have you read about Temple Grandin and the pressure machine she invented for herself?

  2. Yeah. I guess the cows like it too...

  3. It's interesting to note that kids that hate light touch often need deep pressure and calm down when strongly hugged or sleeping under a weighted blanket. This mix of over/under sensitivities is very common with many autistic kids.

    You may also be interested to check out the Free Sound Therapy Home Programme available from Sensory Activation Solutions. Their Auditory Activation Method builds on the pioneering work of Dr. Alfred Tomatis (Tomatis method) and Dr. Guy Bérard (Auditory Integration Training) and has been specifically developed with the aim to improve sensory processing, interhemispheric integration and cognitive functioning. It has helped many children and adults with a wide range of learning and developmental difficulties, ranging from dyslexia, dyspraxia and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder to sensory processing disorders and autism. It is not a cure or medical intervention, but a structured training programme that can help alleviate some of the debilitating effects that these conditions can have on speech and physical ability, daily behaviour, emotional well-being and educational or work performance.

    It's not a scam, there is no catch, it's absolutely free and, most importantly, can be effective. Check it out at:


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