latest news

Using Weighted Blankets

By Alison Wyatt – Occupational Therapist

Weighted blankets can help those with a poor proprioceptive sense and are “sensory seeking”. A poor proprioceptive sense can be described as a lack of body awareness and a poor sense of where your limbs are in relation to the rest of your body. A Weighted Blanket applies deep pressure which has been found to calm the body and help the user feel more in tune with their body. This in turns helps relaxation and a sense of well being and can help sleep.

Signs of a poor proprioceptive sense are; clumsiness, rough play, poor fine motor skills, repetitive behaviours such as spinning, rocking and fidgeting, mouthing and chewing on clothes, pens, fingers etc, Poor co-ordination, Difficulty dealing with change and transition.

Who are weighted blankets suitable for?

  • Children with ASD
  • Children with Sensory Processing Disorder
  • Sensory Seekers
  • Those who have difficulty unwinding, relaxing and sleeping
  • Those who have a short attention span and are easily distracted
  • Those who show tactile sensitivity
  • Those who have a poor awareness of their body or body position
  • Those who display self-stimulatory behaviour such as rocking, twirling and chewing

What weight do I need?

Occupational Therapists recommend a weighted item (blanket/lap pad/vest) is 10% of the person’s body weight, plus 1-2Ib

Persons Weight Suitable weight Persons weight Suitable weight
2-3 stone (12-19kg) 1kg 6-8 stone (38-51kg) 4.5kg
3-4 stone (19-25kg) 2.5kg 8-10 stone (51-64kg) 6kg
4-5 stone (25-32kg) 3kg 10-12 stone (64-78kg) 7kg
5-6 stone (32-38kg) 3.5kg 12 stone (78kg+) 8kg

What type of weighted item?

Blanket – comes in various sizes to be draped around the shoulders, over the knees or to cover the child whilst laying down.

Lap pad – square or rectangular weighted pads that are used on children’s laps whilst they are sat at the table/ desk or in the car to aid concentration and reduce fidgeting.

 

Other weighted items such as weighted hoodies or backpacks are also commercially available.

See www.sensorydirect.com

 

Other guidance:

  • Weighted items aren’t suitable for babies, children or adults who cannot move independently.
  • Ensure that the blanket does not cover the users face and never use the blanket as a restraint. The user should be supervised and be able to self-remove the blanket.
  • Ensure that the blanket is the correct weight for the user – please see the weight guide above. You should not exceed the blanket weight recommended below unless instructed by a qualified health professional such as your Occupational Therapist.
  • Check the blanket on a regular basis for signs of wear & tear. If threads are coming loose or there are signs of beads escaping you should stop using the blanket immediately.

 

Washing Instructions:

Hand Wash or Machine wash on a cool wash (30-40 degrees C) and allow to dry naturally. Do not tumble dry. Do not Iron. Do not Dry Clean.

 

 

For more information or advice contact: alison.wyatt@littlemiraclescharity.org.uk