Weighted items are becoming popular nowadays and have been proven to provide benefits for children with Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism, ADHD, ADD, Anxiety, Restless Leg Syndrome, and some mental health issues. So what is it really and what are the benefits?
What are Weighted Items?
Weighted items are any items (such as blankets, vests, and toys) which have been made heavier by adding small weights (usually poly pellets, stainless steel pellets, or glass beads). Those weights can either be stitched into the fabric or put into specially designed pockets. It is recommended to consult with an Occupational Therapist regarding the use of weighted items, to ensure it may benefit your child. They may prescribe a different weight and/or size for your child – if this is the case, Happy Dots can make custom made lap blankets.
What are the benefits?
1. Provides Deep Pressure Touch Stimulation (DPTS)
Deep pressure touch stimulation is a firm tactile sensory input that provides Proprioceptive input to the whole body. This can consist of firm hugs, firm stroking, cuddling, hugging, squeezing, compression, or swaddling.
Deep Pressure Touch Stimulation (DPTS) can stimulate the release of serotonin in the brain, in turn helping children and adults to be calm, relaxed, concentrate on a task, and moderate their sensory input. This is especially helpful in assisting the user to regulate their sensory input when it is sleep time, or when they may be demonstrating behaviour leading to a meltdown.
Weighted items such as the weighted lap blankets and weighted animal toys may also be used as part of a ‘Sensory Diet’ as prescribed by an Occupational Therapist at times for the child to self regulate their sensory input if they are over stimulated and need to calm down before attempting a task which requires focus (for example coming in from outside, running in the playground to sitting at a table and chair listening quietly to the teacher).
Below is the list of benefits of DPTS:
- Eases Insomnia
- Helps with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
- Reduces Anxiety
- Fights Back Against Stress
- Improves focus for ADHD
- Eases Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
- Improves Sleep Quality
- Boosts Mood
- Promotes Calmness
- Encourages Focus in the Classroom
- Eases Pain without Drugs
- Eases Travel Anxiety
- Addresses Symptoms of PTSD
- Soothes Symptoms of Panic Disorder
- Helps Manage Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
2. Manages Autism Symptoms
There is no cure for autism, but researchers have found it’s possible to manage the symptoms through a variety of treatments and therapies. In studies, touch therapy, autism patients responded most favourably to gentler, slower touch.
Touch therapy has been noted to have immediate and long-term effects on the body’s biochemistry, including decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and increased levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which play roles in mood regulation, movement, impulse control, and more.
Some weighted items are portable and can be taken anywhere. For example, animal weighted toys are usually the appropriate size for children for them to carry around during class or during a short drive to the store. Alongside the benefit of weight, there is also the extra sensory input of the lusciously soft fabric as well as the fact that they don’t look ‘clinical’… they are just regular looking soft toys.
4. Easy to clean and washable
Most weighted items are machine washable and easy to clean. We definitely recommend Happy Dots’ weighted lap blanket and animal weighted toys. At Happy Dots, our Weighted Animals are filled with glass beads. This design has a removable and secure double stitched/double-layered weighted insert, which is machine washable.
5. Recreates a Hug
What is better than being enfolded in a big, warm bear hug? When a child is hurt, one of their first actions is usually to run toward a parent in search of a hug.
The comforted, peaceful feelings most of us get from hugs and gentle pressure is really just weighted blanket therapy at work. Studies show that hugs can boost serotonin and dopamine, the two feel-good chemicals in the brain. With a weighted blanket or toy, you can get a hug whenever and wherever you need one.