If you or someone you love struggles with autism or certain developmental or social disorders, you may have heard quite a bit of buzz lately about weighted sensory blankets and how they can help people with these disorders to stay calm and focused. But there are also quite a few misunderstandings about weighted blankets floating around and making it difficult to make an informed decision. Here are three common misconceptions about weighted sensory blankets that simply aren’t true:
Many people who have heard of weighted blankets only know about how they relate to autism. Part of that is because of the growing public awareness of how common autism is; more than 3.5 million Americans are currently living with a disorder somewhere on the autism spectrum. But the benefits of a weighted blanket go far beyond helping people with autism. Weighted blankets may also help children or adults with sensory processing disorders (which affect between 5% and 16% of school-aged children), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (which, as of 2011, had been diagnosed in 11% of children aged 4-17, 6.4 million children in total), or social anxiety.
Another common misconception is that weighted blankets are meant for young children. It’s true there are weighted blankets for kids, and they come in many fun patterns and colors to make them appealing to younger age groups. But there are also weighted blankets for adults and even seniors. These come in more subdued, design-conscious styles but work in essentially the same way, by providing calming deep pressure to the user.
Weighted sensory blankets aren’t a one-size-fits-all cure, both in the sense that different people require different sizes and weights of blankets, and in that weighted blankets don’t work in the same ways for all people -- even all people with autism, all people with SPD, all people with ADHD or all people with anxiety. Just because your friend’s son tried one and didn’t see an improvement doesn’t mean you won’t have more success.
Have you heard any other unsubstantiated statements about weighted blankets being tossed around? Share them or other thoughts and questions in the comments.