A Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) affects how the body deals with the senses and processes this information to the central nervous system. It might be only one particular sense that there is an issue with, for instance touch, taste or smell. Or it may be many senses that the neurological system has difficulty processing the right signals for. This can have a serious impact on daily life. Children are curious and love to explore; they shouldn’t be held back in life. If they have SPD, then using a weighted blanket can help them to cope with some of the symptoms.

How is a weighted blanket used?
Children with an SPD can struggle in many ways, not just physically, they can also have emotional and behavioral problems. Sometimes SPD is confused with autism or ADHD, particularly in the case of insomnia. A weighted blanket calms children more than a security blanket. The blanket weight commonly recommended is 10% plus 1/2 lbs of the body weight. It can be used to cover the whole body, or parts of it. It is made up of sections like a quilt. The blanket can embrace the body like a giant hug, releasing serotonin and creating a feeling of safety and warmth. It can be used to manage meltdowns and help children to gain control in a safe environment.

Children and sleeping
A weighted blanket can be particularly effective when it comes to sleeping problems linked with SPD. Often children can be restless or have anxiety when drifting off to sleep – moving around in bed can stop them from getting enough sleep, and this has a knock-on affect the next day. A weighted blanket inhibits movement and in turn helps them to get a calm and restful night’s sleep. With enough sleep, it makes the challenges of the day easier to deal with and helps them be more mentally prepared.

What sort of weighted blanket should I choose?
Make sure that you have got the correct weight blanket – that is no more than 10% of body weight plus 1/ 2 lbs. Don’t forget when buying a blanket for children, that you are looking to calm their overactive sensory system. Choose calming natural and pastel colors in shades that they will enjoy.

A weighted blanket can really help children with SPD, and give them the confidence and ability to deal with how the symptoms of SPD affect everyday life. – by Jane Sandwood

Jane Sandwood is a professional freelance writer with over 10 years’ experience. Although Jane writes across many fields, her particular interests at the moment focus on young people, learning and development and she has donated her writing talent to create this resource for our website.