- What is sensory processing disorder and how can I help my child?
- Causes, symptoms, and treatment of SPD
- Sensory processing disorder (SPD) kids: How they are different
- You know sensory processing disorder exists, so why don’t they?
- What to do when your sensory sensitive child has a meltdown
- Challenges your sensory sensitive child will face at school
- Occupational therapy for a child with SPD
- Can a child outgrow SPD?
- Does a weighted blanket help with sensory issues?
Children with SPD can have trouble falling asleep at night. Any kind of itchy tag or crooked sleepwear can feel irritating. Sensory seekers may have trouble with the constant need to move and therefore, keep themselves awake. The dysregulated feeling that often comes alongside SPD can induce anxiety and sleeplessness.
Weighted blankets are one item that many SPD families have in their toolbox of comfort items. 4 moms weigh in on their potential benefits.
A weighted blanket is like a hug
A weighted blanket can be highly beneficial to an SPD child or adult. The weighted blanket provides a similar stimulus to a hug and the deep pressure applied to the body’s sensory receptors has a calming effect on the nervous system.
A weighted blanket has been found to boost mood, improve sleep, increase spatial awareness, and have a calming effect. It can be used in a variety of situations including during a meltdown to assist in calming your child.
A weighted blanket helped my son sleep through the night
My son was about 6 years old and still not sleeping well at night. He was a restless sleeper, and often woke himself up in the night with his own wiggling. Worse yet was his inability to relax, due to his need for sensory input.
A weighted blanket from a friend was an absolute treasure. The first night my son used his weighted blanket was the first night he slept through the night.
Weighted blankets offer calming deep pressure, which soothes the central nervous system. It can reduce anxiety, release positive endorphins, and improve sleep. Speak with an occupational therapist or doctor to find out if a weighted blanket is right for your child with SPD. The weight and size of the blanket are determined by the child’s size, weight, and severity of SPD.
With the right therapy, a weighted blanket might not be needed
I would not go so far as to say one “absolutely has” to have a weighted blanket for a sensory child. Weighted blankets are a tool that a child with SPD can use in various situations such as long car rides, time of extreme stress, transitioning from high to low energy, etc. to help them control, or regulate, their emotional responses to scenarios like these. This is called self-regulation.
There are techniques and strategies that occupational and behavioral therapists can train the child with SPD to use in order to achieve self-regulation. If the child has achieved some level of mastery using these strategies, adaptive tools such as weighted blankets and vests, compression shirts, and other aids may not be needed.
There’s no scientific basis for using weighted blankets for SPD
You absolutely do not have to have a sensory blanket for a sensory child or for any child for that matter. If you Google weighted blankets lots of adverts for buying them come up, but very little research. The claims made by many of the retailers are not supported by research.
For many little people, and big people, weighted blankets do work. I love mine, but in terms of them being an evidence-based tool to support your SPD child. Sorry, no!