The Benefits of Using a Weighted Blanket for Kids with Autism: A Parent's Guide
As parents, we want what’s best for our children, and must constantly educate ourselves on the challenges faced by our little ones. However, the challenges and experiences faced by autistic children can be unique to each individual child, depending on their temperament, personality, and where they stand on the autism spectrum.
As such, it can be harder for parents to understand their needs, and help them with the tools they need to navigate the world around them. Weighted blankets are one such tool employed by occupational therapists to help comfort restless or stressed individuals, especially children with autism.
But what do weighted blankets have to do with autism? To answer this question, let’s first take a closer look at the developmental disorder itself.
Autism: A Closer Look
Autism is a developmental disorder that can be difficult to identify, and even more challenging to navigate. Thankfully, with modern psychological and physiological research, identifying symptoms of autism is becoming increasingly attainable.
While autism was once believed to affect 1 in 100 children, surveys from the last few years show that it is closer to 1 in 44. Autism is a spectrum and can present itself in a variety of different ways, ranging from minor behavioural tendencies to more severe physical tics, emotional difficulties and more.
Here are some challenges faced by those suffering from more severe autism:
- Difficulties with Social Interactions and Non-Verbal Cues
- Difficulties in Dealing with Change
- Hyper Fixation and Lack of Interest in Diverse Subjects
- Sensory Sensitivities
However, many of these challenges can also become strengths. For example, Hyper Fixation can present itself in certain autistic children as an indicator of higher intelligence, and a stronger-than-average ability to concentrate on tasks.
While this is true, the symptoms of autism can be highly disruptive to a child’s ability to develop and can be difficult for parents to manage.
One of the major challenges for autistic children is neurological hyperactivity, which can disrupt a child’s regular sleep cycles and result in sleeplessness and insomnia, which further exacerbate pre-existing sensory processing issues.
But how does this work?
Why A Restful Night’s Sleep Is Vital for Brain Function
When we are well-rested, our cognitive functioning is at its peak. However, the long-term effects of improper sleep can impair our ability to reason and communicate clearly.
According to the journal Children, 44% to 83% of people with autism experience some form of disturbance with sleep. In children struggling with high physical manifesting autism, low quality of sleep can make speech and communication impairments even more pronounced. The same is true with overstimulation. When a child is not able to regulate their sensory input, it becomes challenging for them to perform regular activities effectively.
So, how do weighted blankets help?
How Weighted Blankets Help with Sensory Overload and Poor Sleep
Weighted blankets have been scientifically proven to aid in sleep disorders, such as insomnia and narcolepsy, and have been used by adults and parents of neurotypical children to help promote deeper and more restful sleep through the principles of Deep Touch Pressure therapy.
A weighted blanket can help children with the following:
- Night terrors
- Improved duration of REM sleep
- Improved cognition
- Memory retention
Here’s how it works: The weight of a weighted blanket provides the wearer with Deep Touch Pressure stimuli which mimics the feeling of being hugged.
But what does that mean?
Well, being hugged is excellent for the mental and physical well-being of human beings. Hugs and other forms of touch like cuddling, holding hands and linking arms between release the bonding hormone oxytocin, which, in turn, releases feel-good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin while decreasing anxiety-induced hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine.
The deep pressure touch of the weighted blanket simulates hugging by inducing the same chain reaction of hormones, so you feel calmer and happier and less anxious. There’s more; it also decreases blood pressure and heart rate, so your child feels grounded, safe, and well-rested.
A weighted blanket applies evenly distributed weight which can provide relief and comfort, distract from negative sensory responses and fulfil sensory needs. In other words, by regulating sensory overload and improving the quality of sleep, the less desirable experiences of autism are reduced and mitigated.
Get Your Children Tucked In With Our Range Of Premium Weighted Blankets
As a parent, you want what is best for your child. At Tucked In, we understand that.
On a quest to help India sleep better, Tucked In’s best-selling weighted blankets were designed to create a culture of Happy Humans by combining the science of Deep Pressure Touch Therapy with the experience of sleep - a formula that has helped over 10,000 people (and counting) take control of their sleep habits.
Over 45 years of pioneering the Indian Sleep Revolution, our experience informs our production. Our in-house processes of digital printing, quilting and embroidery are meticulously conducted to ensure the highest quality, guaranteeing a restful night’s sleep, every time.
With a variety of weighted blankets in knitted, cotton, sherpa and velvet fabrics, say goodbye to sleeplessness and random bouts of insomnia with Tucked In’s weighted blankets, scientifically formulated to reduce cortisol levels and improve brain function through Deep Touch Pressure stimulation.
Looking to revolutionise your sleep cycle for optimal comfort and overall wellness? Buy our weighted blankets today!