- What is the Best Weighted Blankets for Autism?
- What Causes Autism?
- Do Weighted Blankets Help with Autism?
- Different Types of Autism Weighted Blankets
- Key Components of a Weighted Blanket for Autism
- The 7 Best Weighted Blankets for Autism
- 6 More Top Rated Weighted Blankets for People with Autism
- FAQ Weighted Blankets for Individuals with Autism
Technically known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that typically begins in early childhood. This condition lasts throughout the individual’s life and affects everything from how they interact with others to how they learn and communicate. It is called autism “spectrum” disorder because people with ASD can display a wide range of symptoms.
The causes of autism spectrum disorder are unknown, though it is commonly believed that genetics and environmental factors may play a role. Diagnosis can sometimes be a challenge, and there is no cure. There are certain medications and therapies that can help an individual cope with symptoms and to reduce their difficulty, but it is a lifelong condition.
Many people with autism struggle with sensory processing and can benefit from deep pressure therapy or DPT which is simply gentle pressure evenly distributed across the body. The best way to administer this therapy is through the use of a weighted blanket.
What is the Best Weighted Blankets for Autism?
What Causes Autism?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), autism spectrum disorder is a complex neurological and developmental disorder that starts early in life. People who have autism often have difficulty with communication and interaction with others, and they may exhibit repetitive behaviors and restricted interests. Many autistic individuals have symptoms that affect their ability to function independently in work, school, or other areas of life.
The symptoms of autism spectrum disorder are widely varied, and there are several specific disorders that fall along the spectrum. Here are some of the behaviors that may be seen in autistic individuals:
- Making little or inconsistent eye contact
- Being slow to respond to verbal attempts to gain attention
- Rarely sharing enjoyment of activities or objects
- Talking at length about a favorite subject with little regard for others.
- Exhibiting movements or facial expressions that don’t match the words being used
- Having difficulty understanding another person’s point of view
- Repeating certain behaviors or words and phrases
- Becoming upset by even slight changes in a developed routine
- Being more or less sensitive to sensory input such as light, noise, texture, and temperature
Do Weighted Blankets Help with Autism?
There is no cure for autism, but when treatment begins as soon as possible after diagnosis, certain therapies have been proven beneficial. Early treatment can reduce the patient’s difficulties while also helping them develop their skills and strengths. Because the symptoms of ASD are so widely varied, there is no single best treatment. It is important for parents to work closely with medical professionals and school administration to meet the child’s needs.
Some people with ASD may experience symptoms such as irritability, aggression, hyperactivity, and attention problems that may require medical management. Behavioral, psychological, and educational therapy is also very important. For most people with autism spectrum disorder, treatment is lifelong, so it is the day-to-day things that make the most difference – this is where weighted blankets come in.
There is a great deal of weighted blanket autism research. The therapeutic benefits of weighted blankets for people with autism is related to deep touch pressure or DPT. This is simply gentle pressure distributed evenly across the body that produces a calming effect. DPT offers the same benefit you would get from a hug or a massage, but it works well for autistic individuals who have trouble with physical touch. Weighted blankets apply gentle pressure that calms the nervous system and releases serotonin to alleviate some of the anxiety that many autistic individuals experience – especially at night.
Different Types of Autism Weighted Blankets
Now that you understand how weighted blankets benefit people with autism, you may be wondering how to choose the right one. Before you start shopping for weighted blankets, take the time to learn the basics about the different types that are available. Here is a quick summary of common options:
- Box Construction – This type of weighted blanket is similar in appearance to a down comforter – it is sewn with boxes that contain the weighted material.
- Channel Construction – Instead of boxes, this type of weighted blanket has channels sewn into the fabric that distribute the weighted material more evenly and allow it to move freely.
- Removable Cover – These weighted blankets have a removable cover to make washing easy. This is a great feature but pay attention to how the cover connects because some of them can be tricky. You should also make sure the removable cover is actually washable.
- Completely Sewn – This type of blanket is all one unit. Depending on the materials used for the blanket and the filling, it may still be washable, but you should check before you buy.
- Lap/Shoulder Blanket – Some weighted blankets are designed to be used for sleep, but others are smaller, designed to be laid across the lap or draped across the shoulders.
When it comes to shopping for a weighted blanket for autistic adults, you’ll need to consider the person’s preferences in terms of weight and materials. Some people with autism prefer a blanket that stimulates the senses while others don’t. Keep reading to learn about the different components of weighted blankets so you can consider the options.
Key Components of a Weighted Blanket for Autism
When shopping for a weighted blanket for autism, you have to keep the user’s preferences in mind. If you’re not sure what the best weighted blanket might be, the best you can do is educate yourself about the different components. Here is a summary of the different components of a weighted blanket:
- Weight – Weighted blankets range in weight from about 5 to 25 or 30 pounds. For children, choose a blanket 10% of the child’s body weight plus 1 to 2 pounds. For adults, go with 10%.
- Size – The size of your weighted blanket is determined by how you plan to use it. Many autistic children benefit from simply sitting with a weighted blanket, though they can also be used for sleeping. You’ll need a larger blanket for sleeping or a smaller blanket for sitting.
- Filler – Some filler materials work better than others and, to some degree, it is a matter of preference. The most common fillers for weighted blankets are glass beads, plastic pellets, and grains like rice or millet. Avoid anything that contains lead.
- Fabric – The fabric from which a weighted blanket is made determines several factors such as breathability, warmth, and sensory appeal. Many autistic children like the soft Minky fabric that some weighted blankets come in, particularly those with sensory dotted textures. When it comes to a weighted blanket for autistic adults, breathability may be more of a concern.
- Cover – If you want a washable weighted blanket, look for one with a removable cover. Some blankets even come with two covers, a warm one for winter and a breathable one for summer.
Sometimes you won’t know until you try a weighted blanket whether it really works. You may also find that you prefer a certain material or a certain type of filling. Even if you have to try out several options to find the perfect fit, it is definitely worth the benefits you’ll receive.
The 7 Best Weighted Blankets for Autism
Now that you know more about autism and how weighted blankets might help with symptom management, you’re ready to start shopping. If you’re not sure where to start, check out our recommendations. Here are our top 7 picks for autism weighted blankets:
|Our Picks: Best Autism Weighted Blankets in 2019|
Overall Best Weighted Blanket for Autism: The Harkla Adult Weighted Blanket is one of the most popular weighted blankets on the market, and for good reason. It is made in two pieces for easy washing, and it is simple to put the cover back on using ties at the corner. The blanket comes in weights ranging from 5 to 25 pounds and in sizes up to 65×80 inches. This weighted blanket is soft and comfortable, made with a dotted Minky fabric that provides excellent sensory input. It is available in several different colors and comes with a lifetime warranty. Because it comes in larger sizes, it is perfect for sleeping, and it also comes in child sizes.
- Pros: Very soft, removable 2-piece duvet cover for easy washing, even weight distribution, sensory input, several weights, and multiple color combinations, adult and child sizes
- Cons: Very expensive for the larger sizes, cotton filling, may make it too warm for some users
6 More Top Rated Weighted Blankets for People with Autism
If our top overall pick doesn’t seem like the perfect weighted blanket for you, there are still many more options out there. Here are six more top-rated weighted blankets for people with autism:
If you’re looking for a weighted blanket designed specifically for autistic children, the SensaCalm Therapeutic Small Weighted Blanket is a great option. This blanket comes in smaller sizes and lower weights that are perfect for children, and they come in bright colors as well. This blanket features a box construction for even weight distribution, and there is an option to add more weight if your child needs more sensory input. The SensaCalm blanket is filled with hypoallergenic poly pellets and hypoallergenic fiberfill for a pillow-like feel. It is also completely washable and dryable for convenience.
- Pros: Designed specifically for children, bright color options, custom made in therapeutic sizes, option to add more weight, box construction for even weight distribution, washable and dryable
- Cons: Expensive for the size, fiberfill may be too warm in hot weather, no removable cover
Easily one of the most popular weighted blankets on the market, the YnM Weighted Blanket is made from premium materials and comes in a wide range of colors, weights, and sizes. This blanket features a unique 7-layer system designed to conform to the body while delivering gentle, evenly distributed pressure and sensory input. The box construction properly contains the premium glass beads, and there is minimal fiberfill to offer better temperature control. Choose from a variety of duvet covers (sold separately) such as lightweight cotton or soft Minky material.
- Pros: Even distribution of weight, 5 to 25 pounds, breathable fabric, less fiber means better temperature control, comes with 3-year warranty, variety of cover options to choose from
- Cons: May not withstand machine washing, seams may tear easily
If you’re looking for an affordable all-in-one solution, the Degrees of Comfort Weighted Blanket is one of the best. This weighted blanket comes with two different duvet covers so you can enjoy your blanket all year round. The breathable cotton cover is perfect for summer while the soft, Minky fabric is great for winter and also provides an added degree of sensory stimulation. This weighted blanket comes in weights from 6 to 25 pounds and sizes up to 60×80 inches. It utilizes nano-ceramic bead technology and offers even weight distribution for optimal therapeutic benefit.
- Pros: Nano-ceramic bead technology, even distribution of weight, comes with two duvet covers, comes in five weights and four different sizes, durable materials with duralast fiber stitching
- Cons: May not be wide enough to share, sections are somewhat large which allows the weighted material to shift, covers are somewhat tricky to attach
For quality and value, the ZonLi Weighted Blanket for Adults is a great option. This weighted blanket features a simple box construction for even weight distribution and is made from 100% natural cotton and hypoallergenic glass beads. This blanket comes in weights ranging from 5 to 30 pounds and sizes up to 80×87 inches which makes it perfect for sleeping. It is made with environmentally-friendly materials and durably constructed. Plus, it comes with a 3-year replacement policy for peace of mind.
- Pros: 100% cotton materials, wide range of sizes, non-toxic pellet materials, box-construction for even weight distribution, machine washable, 3-year replacement policy
- Cons: Can be very warm in the summer, may be thinner than expected
Designed by Sharper Image, the Allstar Innovations Calming Comfort Weighted Kids Blanket is made specifically for children. This weighted blanket is designed to provide calming comfort with a super-soft, plush velveteen material and evenly distributed pressure. It comes in five color combinations and in weights ranging from 6 pounds to 25 pounds. It is filled with BPA-free microbeads evenly distributed in precisely-stitched squares to ensure the optimal degree of deep touch pressure stimulation. You can also purchase a machine-washable duvet cover.
- Pros: Super-soft plush velveteen fabric, box construction for even weight distribution, BPA-free microbeads, weight range 6 to 25 pounds, five color options, optional duvet cover
- Cons: Duvet cover sold separately, may not be as durable as other models
If you’re looking for an adult weighted blanket that provides soothing comfort and sensory input, the Quility Premium Adult Weighted Blanket is a great option. This weighted blanket features a soft Minky cover that can be added for warmth and sensory input or removed for easy washing. The blanket features 7 layers of premium materials and is made with the most advanced sewing technology to ensure a high-quality product. The 100% cotton outer layer is lined with polyester padding to keep the premium glass microbeads in place while the unique structure ensure comfortable temperature control.
- Pros: Premium materials, 100% breathable cotton, premium glass beads, even weight distribution, duvet cover removable for cleaning and temperature control, 100% satisfaction guarantee
- Cons: Putting the cover back on can be difficult, cover is not made from natural fibers
FAQ Weighted Blankets for Individuals with Autism
- How does a weighted blanket help autism? – Weighted blankets help autism in several ways. The first is through deep pressure therapy (DPT) which is gentle pressure distributed evenly across the body. It mimics the feeling of a hug without overstimulating an autistic child or adult who has trouble with physical touch. Weighted blankets also calm the nervous system, stimulating the release of serotonin in the brain.
- What weight should a weighted blanket be? – The ideal weight for a weighted blanket is 10% of body weight for adults and 10% of body weight plus 1 to 2 pounds in children. Though this is the recommended weight, it is largely a matter of preference how heavy you want your weighted blanket to be. You can choose more or less pressure if you desire.
- Will Medicare pay for a weighted blanket? – Every health insurance plan is different, but many will cover weighted blankets if it is prescribed by a physician. Plans that consider weighted blankets durable medical equipment may pay for the blanket if it prescribed by the child’s pediatrician. To find out if your plan will cover a weighted blanket, call the plan and ask then obtain a prescription. You can also contact a durable medical equipment provider in your area and ask if they will handle the claim for you.
Autism spectrum disorder is a condition that can be very challenging to manage, particularly because many people who have the disorder have difficulty communicating their own needs. Deep pressure therapy has been shown to offer a calming benefit for people with autism, both children and adults, and it can be delivered with a weighted blanket. If you’re considering a weighted blanket for someone with autism, consider the 7 top rated weighted blankets we’ve reviewed above.