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weighted blanket On Amanda’s porch sat a heavy brown box full of what she would soon discover was worth more than its weight in gold! The long sought after weighted blanket for her son had arrived. Excitedly, she opened the package to discover her personal fabric selection with an adorable pirate theme. As she pulled the blanket from the box, she was pleasantly surprised by the hefty weight of it.  She eagerly awaiting the arrival of her son from school to try out the blanket.

Determine the Appropriate Weight

Occupational Therapist, Britt Collins, MS, OTR/L, shares, “The rule of thumb for a weighted blanket is typically 5-10% of the child’s body weight. The length is whatever is comfortable for the child.”

Gwen Wild, OTR/L expands by sharing, “Most kids typically prefer about 15% of their body weight in the blanket, but it’s okay to go higher as long as they are comfortable.”

Discover Your “Just Right” Weighted Blanket

Based on Amanda’s son’s height and weight and his sensory need for deep pressure, he would take 10 pounds in a twin size blanket.

Just based on his weight, he would take 6 lbs.

She added 2 pounds because of his height of 48″ inches and a twin bed is 75″ long.

As much of the blanket is not actually on him, increasing the weight a little gives him the right amount of pressure in the portion of the blanket that is on him.  The weight of the blanket will remain the right pressure as he grows.

Finally, because he likes deep pressure she added another 2 pounds to the formula.

Ensure Safety

Concerned about safety, Amanda was uneasy about the weight and whether the blanket would hang over the sides of the bed, thereby increasing the weight on her son.  The custom made twin blanket fit perfectly atop her son’s bed with no over hang.
Wild recommends the following criteria to determine if a particular child can use a weighted blanket safely:

1. Can the child easily get out from under the blanket independently?
2. Does the child show appropriate responses to physiological variables – for example, does it occur to them to remove a jacket when they get too hot?
3. Is the child three years of age or older?

“If I can answer yes to all three of these questions, I feel comfortable allowing the child to sleep under the blanket all night if he/she chooses to”, shares Wild.

The under 3 age rule references the guidelines set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission relating to items that could present as a choking hazard for young children. (1)

Look for a weighted blanket provider who customizes the blanket to the needs of the consumer.  Also, ensure that extra measures are taken to prevent weighting material from escaping the inside of the blanket.

Additional safety features could include 6″ on each end with no weighting material just in case a child is a chewer.  Also, if the child is a chewer, request adding extra reinforcements to the ends to ensure safety.

A Restful Afternoon

Amanda’s son arrived home from school to find this adorable pirate blanket weighing down the back of the rocking chair in the living room.  He usually works hard to hold himself together the best he can all day at school.  However, when he gets home, he unleashes his sensory need to be kinesthetic in almost an explosion of excess energy.  This particular day, he plopped into the rocking chair, wrapped the blanket around him and asked for a television show. He remained there for what appeared to be an abnormal amount of time.  So much so, Amanda checked his forehead for a temperature to discover her son was fine.  He was simply cozy, content and most importantly – calm.

A Good Night Sleep for All

Amanda’s sons usually play musical beds with her and her husband all night long.  One, if not both, awaken at some point in the night and curl into bed with mom and dad, greatly impacting the restfulness of their sleep. It is really hard to sleep with a foot in your nose, a knee in your belly or a bump to your heads with one of their hard noggins! Now, Amanda and her husband are only down to one foot up the nose.  Her son has slept through the night every night since she laid this weighted blanket on his bed.

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References

Goodson, Barbara Dillon., and Martha Bronson. Which Toy for Which Child: A Consumer’s Guide for Selecting Suitable Toys: Ages Birth through Five. Washington, DC: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1993. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Web. 2 Mar. 2016.

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Special-Ism
An "Ism" is our coined term synonymous with a “challenge”. Many children, with or without a diagnostic label, experience various challenges throughout their developmental years which are impacting them in the classroom and at home. At Special-Ism, the Ism is our focus. We do not look at the diagnostic label, instead, we look at the Isms and offer solutions no matter the diagnosis.