Weighted Blankets as Therapy?
My daughter, who has ADHD and anxiety, has difficulty controlling her anger. We recently received a weighted blanket, which she has learned to use to calm herself down.
The other day, my daughter, Natalie, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and sensory processing disorder (SPD), was playing on her trampoline with her friend Harry (who also has ADHD) in our backyard when something happened that typically would have triggered an angry outburst sent her running to her new therapeutic tool, a weighted blanket.
“Stop!” Natalie yelled. “Stop it, Harry. I mean it!”
Nat and Harry love each other — and fight with each other — just like siblings. That day Harry was saying something about what girls can do versus what boys can do — over and over. Natalie was getting mad, and of course, he didn’t stop when she asked him to.
Natalie crawled over to the edge of the trampoline, growling like a rabid dog, jumped down, and ran into the house. When I checked on her a minute later, I found her on the couch, covered by her new weighted blanket, the Magic Blanket. She knew it would help her to calm down.
Natalie’s Magic Blanket is a weighted blanket from the now-defunct Bean Blanket Company, designed for her height and weight. Weighted blankets are a tool occupational therapists (OTs) often recommend for kids with ADHD, SPD, and autism spectrum disorders to help with calming. The weight is intended to provide proprioceptive input to the brain, which has a calming and organizing effect on the central nervous system.
I learned several years ago that deep pressure from weight does help Natalie to calm down. One of the most effective techniques to help her regain control during an aggressive outburst is to have her lie on the carpet, put a pillow or chair cushion on top of her, and apply some of my body weight. Our OT did something similar with Nat during therapy sessions — squished her between two beanbag chairs.
After having some success with using deep pressure, we borrowed a weighted blanket (not made by the Original Bean Blanket Company) from Harry so that Natalie could try it. It didn’t seem heavy enough to me to be helpful, and after the newness wore off, we found that it wasn’t, and we gave it back.
But her Magic Blanket is different — it weighs a whopping 16 pounds, with the weight evenly distributed throughout. And the pink chenille fabric is a sensory-delight for exposed skin and fingers — fluffy and soft, with chenille’s traditional supple bumps.
In her anger at Harry, Natalie had turned to her Magic Blanket as a calming tool, and it clearly was helping. Before long Harry came inside to find her. Next thing I knew they were both on the couch, backs against opposite ends of the couch, legs extended. They were both under the Magic Blanket, watching TV calmly.
This brand of weighted blanket — the Magic Blanket — is a keeper! The company no longer exists, unfortunately, but some of their products are still available on Amazon.
Updated on January 9, 2018