Gillian is 14-years-old. At the age of two, she was diagnosed with severe autism.
“Autism is so broad. So, there is a huge range. For Gillian, you know, it affects her communication, she is nonverbal and she’s sensory overload all the time,” explained Cindy Mancini, Gillian’s mom.
Cindy said it’s hard for Gillian to focus and relax, but the use of a weighted blanket, which was actually a recommendation by her speech therapist, has helped Gillian significantly.
“I believe it’s the whole sensory input situation,” Cindy explained. “…I think it almost takes that stimulates away some way or another.”
The blanket has now become a regular part of Gillian’s therapy routine.
“They will put her on the couch, they will lay the blanket over her, she will begin to calm and that’s all it takes and they can put her at the table and they can work with her,” Cindy said. “…It has helped in terms of calming, increased focus.”
In some cases, weighted blankets have been proven to help people like Gillian feel more relaxed and comfortable, but now, weighted blankets have hit the mainstream and a lot of people are using them after a long, stressful day to get a better night’s sleep.
“People who have used them have reported that they are beneficial,” explained Dr. Kline, a psychologist at the Sleep Disorders Center of Connecticut.
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Though weighted blankets have not yet been studied in depth and are not used at sleep centers, Dr. Kline has patients who said they have slept better, longer and more comfortable because of weighted blankets.
“I think it gives a sense of safety and comfort. That cocooning effect seems to be really important and it may actually give some tactile sensation which may actually help the body relax physiologically,” Dr. Kline added.
Dr. Kline explained that the most common reason people say they can’t sleep well is “they just can’t turn the brain off.”
A weighted blanket may be able to help with that.
“…I think the main thing is that it may help people relax and relax them to sleep…It seems that it’s both physical and psychological. That it has some benefits,” Dr. Kline added.
Dr. Kline can easily understand why a lot of people may find these blankets useful for sleeping better. He also said that they may not be for everyone.
But, even Gillian is going to give it a try.
“Gillian has a hard time settling down for sleep, so with all this coming out recently, I think I am going to try that as well,” Cindy said.