Weighted blanket review- deep touch pressure ( DTP ) calms autism meltdown

PRODUCT : Weighted blanket with neck cut out

COLORS :  Buckskin, navy, and blue waves

Putting an autistic child under a weighted blanket during a meltdown will calm his nerves.

Product  Description

Size  Weight        Dimensions          Age     Price 
XS  5 pounds 32″ x 36 “   3 yrs   $ 135.99
Small  8 pounds 36″ x 42″   3 -5 yrs   $ 159.99
Medium 12 pounds 42″ x 54″   6-10 yrs   $ 194.99
Large 16 pounds 54″ x 72″   11-15 yrs   $ 239.99
XL 25 pounds 58″ x 80″   16 yrs & up   $ 295.99
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Meltdown vs temper tantrum

Children with autism usually can either have a meltdown or temper tantrum.

They are two different things.

Parents maybe overwhelmed when their child is in distress

temper tantrum occurs when the child is denied something that he wants to have or something that he wants to do. It is a bid for attention or control. You will notice that your kid sneaks an odd glance at you or the caregiver to see if it’s working.

They may hit you, but not hurt himself. They are still in  control of what is happening. They will usually stop crying when you give in to what they want. This is not the proper way to react as a parent, of course because they will tend to repeat this time and again.

meltdown on the other hand, is secondary to overstimulation by things such as light, sound, and touch, also called ” sensory overload.

Likewise, autistic kids easily get frustrated or anxious with  unexpected turn of events, such as when there is change in their routines.

They cannot express how they feel or understand what is happening;  they have  complete loss of behavioral control, so they scream, destroy property, hurt themselves, become aggressive or become violent to others.

It is sometimes scary and dangerous when this happens. As a parent or caregiver, you need to be calm and approach your child peacefully to dissipate the attack.

Don’t put an added stress to your child by panicking. Give him time to de-stress on his own.

Just be supportive, hug him if he allows you. Give him an assurance that it will just go away.

There  are various strategies on how to  calm your autistic child during a meltdown. Of course, this can just stop or be resolved at its own pace, without giving in to something.

It’s a storm or an uncontrollable reaction to sensory overstimulation or sudden change in routine, that just needs to blow up and then go  away.

Every autistic child is different.

As a parent and caregiver, you need to discover what usually causes the meltdown. It’s a case to case basis. List down what he was doing before a meltdown.

Once you have recognized what usually triggers it, then you can guide him on how to prevent it or walk away from it. This is of course better said than done.

Examples on how to prevent a meltdown includes minimizing  noise in his bedroom or playroom or generally in your home. Avoiding loud music is another  good strategy.

A  weighted blanket to calm a meltdown

The weighted blanket calms the autistic child due to deep touch pressure ( DTP )

One of the best ways to calm your child during a meltdown is using a weighted blanket.

As the name implies, it is a blanket with some extra weight.

How does it work?  A weighted blanket  provides a deep touch pressure ( DTP ) or distributed weight across the body. 

DTP is equivalent to a hug, a squeeze, or  a massage.

DTP releases serotonin in the body, an important chemical  that brings about calmness and stable mood. It also decreases nervous system activity.

Thus, putting the child under a weighted blanket during a meltdown  will make him calm and relaxed.

Many times the child is so stressed that he does not want you to touch him, so making him slip under a  weighted blanket is the next best option.

Therefore, a weighted blanket is highly recommended  if you have an autistic child.

How heavy should a weighted blanket be?

First determine your child’s weight. Then find or buy the blanket with an average  weight of 20 percent ( range of 15-25 % ) of his weight. This is based on a study of T. Champagne, an occupational therapist on mental health.

BEST to BUY at : National Autism Resources Corp

The Sleeptight weighted blanket

Therapist designed Sleeptight weighted blanket features industrial materials and stitching for several years of use. Choice of correct size for your child depends on his age and weight. The blanket is generally recommended to weigh more or less 20 % of the child’s  body weight.  For example, a child who weighs 25 pounds should use a 5 pound blanket.

This blanket is sewn with a curved cut out at the top to fit properly the contour of the shoulders and below the chin. Thus, it provides comfortable deep pressure to chest and shoulders without crowding into  the neck.

Please do not place the blanket over the face to avoid suffocation. 

This Sleeptight weighted blanket is usually made smaller than a regular blanket so that the calming deep pressure is distributed throughout the body and not across the bed, which will not serve its purpose.

Other uses of a weighted blanket

The Sleeptight weighted blanket is also  made for other purposes aside from calming a child during stress.

It is made of soft corduroy fabric to withstand years of use and this soft tactile cover helps the child to have a calming sleep at night.

Compared with other calming products which have limited use during the day only, this Sleeptight weighted blanket can be used all throughout the night or can be removed when your child is already asleep.

It is also useful for kids or even adults who have anxiety problems, insomnia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ( ADHD ).

Be very cautious

This blanket provides additional warmth, so please regulate your thermostat so the room temperatures don’t become too warm, otherwise, your child might be sweating a lot after a few hours of use and be uncomfortable.

There is also a debate if a weighted blanket is safe for children. Some studies say it is safe for teens and adult, but not for kids.

There were 2 reported deaths on using a weighted blanket. Both happened outside their home. One was on a 9 year old boy with autism , who was put on the blanket for 20 minutes in the classroom and another was a 7-month old infant in the daycare.

I would advise you dear parents to please supervise the use of the weighted blanket so it is not placed over the child’s face and observe him always if he is okey. You can remove it when he is asleep already.

When your child is in daycare or in the classroom, always check if the caregivers or teachers use them during his stay and be sure that they know how to use the blanket properly.

 Greatly Recommended

Again, if your child is autistic, even if he is a grown-up already, using a weighted blanket is a sure way to calm him during a stress, such as a meltdown.

This will also be very useful when he has problems getting a sleep or being disturbed during sleep.

So, if your child is so stressed that he refuses a hug or a massage, grab his weighted blanket and offer him to relax under it.

It will surely dissipate the anxiety in no time.

 

Have you ever used a weighted blanket? Did it help your special child a lot? Please share your experiences with us.

 

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Published by

Marita

I am a doctor by profession who had several years of clinical practice as a Pediatrician and General Practitioner. At present, I work as a Clinical Research Assistant in a large university. Pangga ta ikaw remembers fondly a loved one who passed away and making her demise more meaningful. Supporting children with special needs in our hometown in the Philippines through Special Education is our main focus and through this website, we also aim at making everyone realize that special kids need our love and support.

8 thoughts on “Weighted blanket review- deep touch pressure ( DTP ) calms autism meltdown”

  1. Interesting about a deep touch pressure can alleviate a cause of a meltdown to the poor fellow with autism. I personally haven’t met one yet but this information it’s very useful for this type of situations, but what I also find use full trying to teach them to calm their mind and focus on their breathing so they can ground on the present moment.

    1. Hi Erick,

      An autism  meltdown is something really intimidating and can be dangerous at times. Parents or caregivers need to be calm in dealing with these situations so as not to add to the stress of their kids. 

      Usually these children feels so frustrated,  cannot control their behaviour and don’t know how to respond , that they also tend to refuse your hugs or touch, but you can always try these first together with advising them to be calm and do deep breathing as you suggested.

      Thus, the best way to approach your kid’s meltdown is to offer him to relax under the weighted blanket because the DTP that it brings will simulate your hugs and massage, and will eventually calm him.

      Thanks for passing by.

      Marita

  2. Hi Marita,

    I’m a dad of my three year old son Benni. I have to admit that, despite that, I have NEVER heard of weighted blankets before. Luckily our son is not autistic, and that may be the reason.

    Do you know if the concept of weighted blankets also work with non-autistic kids? I mean, I think kids don’t have to be autistic in order to have meltdowns every once in a while (maybe the severeness is different, I would assume) and guess the idea of “simulating” a hug would work there as well!?

    I also like that you pointed out that there maybe issues with temperature under the blanket. Thanks for reminding us readers of that as well!

    Cheers,
    chris

    1. Hi Chris,

      I’m sure you’re having a fantastic time bonding with Benni. Three is the age where they are very adventurous and inquisitive.

      Yes, meltdowns do happen also in normal kids, but just more common in the autistic ones. It is the time when they lose control of what  is happening and they  don’t know how to respond.

      Definitely, the weighted blanket is useful even for normal kids ( and adults ) especially if they have sleep problems or just having meltdowns or being very anxious with some things or events.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      God bless,

      Marita

  3. This is a great post, Marita! Weighted blankets can be so valuable for children and adults. I suggest that my adult clients with PTSD and other trauma-related mental health challenges use weighted blankets for the calming impact. It has also been just as hlepful for adults who have experienced traumatic brain injuries.

    I love what you’re doing to help children! Keep up the good work!
    God bless you!
    Colleen

    1. Hi Colleen,

      Yes, weighted blankets are useful not only in kids but also in adults, and definitely for those with PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, as well as trauma-related mental health challenges for their anxiety and sleep problems. It will be calming and comforting for them.

      Thank you for visiting my website and for your nice comment and wishes.

      God bless you too!

      Marita

  4. While I was reading your blog, I was getting impressed how you become so knowledgeable of the topic only to find out that your a doctor.

    This is a very helpful post Dr. Marita!

    I observed these on my children whenever they wanted something.

    At first they are very nice while expressing their wants to have something. When I say no, the drama and tantrums start.

    They do something I dislike, they get easily irritated, they madly pout their lips, roll their eyes, show how deeply sad they are, and answer in impolite manner when you ask them questions until I couldn’t resist them but buy what they want.

    Sometimes, if we don’t really have an extra, I tell them and they do understand though.

    By the way, is this product available in the Philippines? I think there has to be an alternative for this one in the tropics. Can you recommend some? Have other products to recommend on how to take control over our child’s emotions without hurting and giving in to their wants? It is painful to the pocket. 🙂

    1. Kids are somehow manipulative of their parents, they know how to act so we give in to them. Those are tantrums that you are describing. 

      We as parents need to know that we should not give in to our kids at all times, because they will continue on manipulating us and outside of our homes, they will continue on doing that even with other people. As long as we explain to them why we cant buy what they want, they will realize later that we really can’t afford. Let us just be consistent so they also learn discipline.

      Instead of always giving in to their wants all the time, proper explanation as I mentioned, plus lots of hugs, reassurance, and  telling them that we love them no matter what, would help. Or just giving them space, like ignore them and allow them to process their feelings on their own would also help. Eventually, if they know that you are really not giving in, they will just stop.

      Definitely, you can also use weighted blankets for normal kids who are very anxious and with sleep problems. They are just pricey but there are other less expensive choices in Amazon.

      I browsed where it is available in the Philippines and I read in  this website   http://educationaltherapytoys…. from Antipolo, Rizal, they have an ad for P3,500 but  out of stock.Maybe if you inquire from them, they can tell you when they’ll have the product.

      At alibaba.com, they have some in USD land less expensive like $10-15.00 I’m not sure though if they are as durable as that one that I reviewed.

      Thanks for visiting.

      Marita

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