It may seem a little odd at first to consider weighted blankets for Asperger’s Syndrome as being effective. But when you consider that anxiety and sleep disorders are among the primary symptoms, then the benefits of using a weighted blanket makes sense. This is especially true for children who have been diagnosed with this disorder.
For parents of children who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, finding the right methods to treat the symptoms can be a stressful experience. While most children with the syndrome will grow up to lead fairly normal lives, the struggles they undergo as children will play an important role when they reach adulthood.
Finding the right balance of how to treat the condition without impeding the emotional growth of the child can be challenging. This is why it helps to better understand Asperger’s Syndrome, its symptoms, the relation to autism, and how it interacts with the sensory processing of the brain.
Understanding Asperger’s Syndrome
Until recently, Asperger’s Syndrome was considered its own category. Today, it is associated with autism, but many still use the term Asperger’s Syndrome to describe the symptoms that are displayed. The exact number of people who have this condition is not known, but what is true is that the condition does have some unique features compared to the typical symptoms associated with autism.
- Sensitive to Sensory Input: Sounds, odors, touch, and the like
- Struggle to Control Emotions
- Not Well Organized
- Lack of Social Interaction and Communication Skills
It might be said that Asperger’s Syndrome is a highly functional form of autism. While that is a simplification, it is true that those with the syndrome tend to be highly intelligent, but also have issues with relating to others. This is especially true in social settings. Depending on the severity, many who suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome use their intelligence and recognition of patterns to cope with the daily anxieties and stresses associated with the condition.
Treating the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome will vary depending on the severity of the condition. Finding non-prescription or non-medication treatments is preferable when possible. This is why weighted blankets are being used to help with some of the symptoms.
What Are Weighted Blankets?
A weighted blanket is not a blanket made out of heavier materials. A proper weighted blanket has small weights that are sewn inside that are evenly distributed. The result is a blanket that is crafted from durable materials with weights that provide gentle pressure from the feet to the head.
The use of weighted blankets goes back several decades. They have been used as a therapeutic tool for children and adults that suffer from a variety of emotional issues. A common comparison made with weighted blankets is that sleeping under them feels like your entire body is being given a gentle hug. That comparison highlights the main attribute that such blankets provide.
A good example is that newborns tend to be wrapped securely in the weeks following their birth. This is because being securely held mimics the conditions of being inside the mother before they were born. The result is a level of comfort to the baby that causes relaxation to occur.
A weighted blanket works along with the same approach, but a different principle. As the memory fades of being inside the womb, the security that a weighted blanket provides is akin to being comforted. It mimics the hug provided by a loved one. The result is that it generates a positive reaction in the brain that helps reduce anxiety and stress.
How Weighted Blankets Help
Anxiety and stress play a daily role in the lives of those with Asperger’s Syndrome. As anyone who has difficulty dealing with these issues, the result is problems falling or staying asleep. Not getting a good night’s sleep because of the sensory issues associated with the syndrome means that the next day is only magnified because of the lack of sleep.
A weighted blanket may seem like a simple device, but the truth is that it offers considerable benefits to those with Asperger’s Syndrome. While it can help adults, it is primarily designed for children who are still coping with the condition and reaching their teenage years when changes in their body will only increase the anxiety and stress they are undergoing.
Releases Serotonin: This is the hormone that is most associated with happiness. This should not be confused with being joyful or excited, but instead content and feeling good about themselves. The weight of the blanket assists the body in releasing serotonin which in turn lowers the amount of anxiety and stress that a child may be feeling.
Releases Melatonin: Melatonin is the hormone that is linked to getting a good night’s sleep. Those who have Asperger’s Syndrome or autism are often lacking in terms of producing enough quantities of melatonin naturally. The gentle pressure applied by the weighted blanket actually stimulates the production of more melatonin. The result is a better night’s sleep.
Adds to the Sensory Input: This may be the least understood aspect of how weighted blankets for Asperger’s Syndrome work. However, it is true that those with this condition have difficulty processing the information that comes from their senses. This means that a typical sheet or blanket may not provide enough of a feel, touch, or stimulation which in turn creates confusion for how the brain processes the sensory information it receives.
By using a weighted blanket, adds to the stimulation which in turn may assist those who are having difficulty getting comfortable or trying to enter a state of sleep. For those who crave more sensory input, the weighted blanket provides just that without being smothering.
Weighted blankets are not only useful for those with Asperger’s Syndrome, but for any child or adult who has difficulty falling or staying asleep at night. The advantages of weighted blankets for Asperger’s Syndrome are considerable. Add to that the fact that the blankets provide the benefit of being long-lasting and quite durable, and you have a potent tool in helping those with Asperger’s cope with their anxiety, stress, and sleep issues.