I was just reading one of those “10 Hottest New Gifts for the Holidays” stories, and the author said she couldn’t wait to try the new “trend” of weighted blankets. That’s a great idea, except, weighted blankets are not a new thing. They’ve been around for almost 30 years and were originally used therapeutically for children with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other Sensory Integration Disorders. In recent years, weighted blankets have become widely used for individuals of all ages to help with anxiety, depression, and insomnia and sleep disorders.
Weighted blankets are based on the idea of Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT), which has been around for decades. It works by providing deep touch pressure exerted equally across the body. Think – swaddling a baby, or deep, solid hug. But sometimes, an individual with autism might not want to be touched when they are anxious or overwhelmed. This is where weighted products come in.
Wrapping in a weighted blanket can provide the calming grounding that comes from DPT. In addition, the pressure reduces the production of cortisol (the “stress hormone”) and encourages the production of serotonin and dopamine (the “well-being” and “happy” hormones). Weighted products are not limited to blankets. Parents and schools are finding that weighted lap pads have a significant positive impact on the classroom experience.
How do you choose a weighted blanket? The general rule of thumb is 10% of the individual’s body weight +/-2 LBS. Most are already made with soft, washable, fabric, meant not to irritate. Given their recent popularity, you can find weighted blankets everywhere, from local mom and pop stores to large retailers, to online giants.
If you are looking for a made in USA, pioneer in the weighted blanket industry, you can check out Grampa’s Garden in Maine, which provides online ordering and shipping. (They even have cute, weighted snake or puppy shoulder wraps.) You can also check with your school, occupational therapist, or doctor to see if they have any recommendations.
Maybe weighted blankets are a great Holiday Gift idea, just not a new one.