Patients with extreme anxiety caused by autism, sensory processing disorder and other conditions can be difficult to soothe and calm. Dr. Temple Grandin (who is autistic, and who was looking into ways to treat her own anxiety) uncovered the benefits of pressure as a way to calm an overstimulated and frazzled nervous system. Dr. Grandin created a squeeze machine for herself, researchers and clinicians adapted the same idea into weighted blankets. The principal concept is that firm pressure on the body for an extended period can calm the mind.
Research has found that deep pressure touch stimulation releases serotonin, a chemical in the brain that works as a neurotransmitter in the regulation of mood, sleep and sensory perception. Weighted blankets mimic deep pressure touch stimulation and thus can have a calming and soothing effect. Sensory processing disorders generally accompany other conditions and many that appear on the autism spectrum. The sensory disorders cause children to seek sensory stimulation or to "stim," which is characterized by such actions as flapping the arms or, in severe cases, self-injurious behaviors. A weighted blanket can counteract this need for sensory stimulation in many cases. The pressure that the blanket puts on the child's body meets the child's need for physical sensation and simultaneously calms the child down.
Example: A 63 pound child of 7 years would use an 8 pound youth blanket. To provide the same pressure per sqaure inch for a twin size, the weight would have to be 10 pounds which may be difficult for the 7 year old to handle. We recommend proper sizing by age.