Many types of sensory integration products can be used as part of a therapy program for individuals with autism and sensory processing disorders. These products provide relief from stress, improve sleep and promote healthy bowel functions. Some of the products include a bean bag, music; cuddly toys; or a hand-held massager. Some of these products also combine elements of massage therapy with activities designed for individuals with autism and sensory processing disorders. The most commonly used sensory integration products include: the weighted blanket, the white noise machine and the white noise MP3 player. Individuals with autism may need additional assistance with planning activities for sensory integration therapy.
The idea behind Calming Blankets – weighted blanket therapy is to provide sensory integration that promotes relaxation, stress reduction and sleep improvement. Individuals with autism or other sensory processing disorders have trouble with sensory modulation and poor regulation of body temperatures. The heavy pressure applied to the body by the weighted blanket is designed to have a calming, organising effect.
It is not known what causes autism spectrum disorder. Many individuals speculate that it has something to do with the brain’s connection to the nervous system and the regulation of body temperatures. Others think it has something to do with abnormal levels of dopamine in the brain. Others believe that it may have something to do with abnormal levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid ( GABA), serotonin (5HT) and noradrenaline (NAH). It is believed that a combination of any of these factors can lead to the development of an autistic disorder.
The benefits of weighted blanket therapy are well documented. It has been proven to help individuals with mild to moderate autism spectrum disorders, and it is also effective for individuals with Asperger’s syndrome and high functioning autism spectrum disorders. It is especially effective in helping children with these conditions because it helps to alleviate the symptoms associated with them, such as tantrums and being easily distracted. Weighted blankets help calm these children because it helps them remain still, focused, and able to concentrate.
Individuals with mild anxiety levels may benefit from weighted blanket therapy as well. Anxiety typically affects individuals when they are trying to sleep, and it can cause them to feel restless and irritable. It can result in them struggling to sleep and staying awake. By relaxing the body, anxiety levels can be reduced, and better sleep can be induced.
Individuals with sensory processing dysfunction are another group that may benefit from this type of therapy. Sensory stimuli are typically not part of the autistic disorder, but some autistic individuals have problems with texture and other types of sensory processing. It can be difficult for these individuals to focus on a task if their sensory processes are impaired. A weighted blanket therapy can be helpful for them in reducing their irritability because it makes it easier for them to focus on a task.
Many children who have autism may also benefit from using weighted blanket therapy. Abnormalities in head and body alignment, muscle tone and posture, and abnormal muscle activity can all cause issues for children who have autism. In addition, autistic individuals frequently show abnormal patterns in how they move their muscles. Using a weighted blanket can help these children to gain some control over their movement patterns and thus may lessen the number of behavioural problems they exhibit.