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Want to know more about the therapeutic benefits of weighted blankets for Asperger’s Syndrome?
According to the Asperger’s/Autism Network, studies suggest around 73% of children with Asperger Syndrome (AS) experience sleep problems.
Many people with Asperger’s also experience the world as overwhelming, which can lead to feelings of anxiety.
Whilst there a number of recognised therapies you can use to help manage the symptoms of Asperger Syndrome, using weighted blankets for Asperger’s may help support you in alleviating anxiety and poor sleep, via the blanket’s therapeutic deep touch pressure.
Let’s take a deeper look.
What Is Asperger’s Syndrome?
A neurobiological condition on the autism spectrum, children, or adults, with Asperger’s often feel, hear and see the world differently.
Often referred to as a ‘high functioning’ form of autism, Asperger’s is:
…characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. (source)
Although now part of the umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), what set’s people with Asperger’s apart is their relatively normal speech and cognitive development.
Whilst many children with autism may come across as aloof or uninterested in others, children with Asperger’s usually want to fit in, but lack the social skills to do it. This often displays as social awkwardness, a lack of empathy or difficulty in understanding the social ‘rules’ and conventions of everyday life.
This can make life challenging for people with Asperger’s, because they find the social expectations placed upon them stressful and overwhelming. This can often lead to mood swings, anxiety and sleep issues.
Common Symptoms of Asperger’s
According to Autism Speaks, Asperger Syndrome generally involves:
- Difficulty with social interactions
- Restricted interests
- Desire for sameness
- Distinctive strengths (children with Asperger’s often have high IQs).
Sensitivity to specific sensory input, such as smells, sounds, touch or textures, clumsiness and lack of co-ordination, difficulties controlling emotions and anxiety/sleep issues are all common symptoms of people with Asperger’s.
Weighted Blankets For Asperger’s
Anxiety, tiredness and difficulty making sense of everyday sensory stimulation, such as touch and noise, can often lie at the root of mood swings and meltdowns in those with Asperger Syndrome.
Over time this anxiety can lead to sleep issues and even depression. Sleep issues lead to more tiredness, which further exacerbates mood swings and soon a child can be caught up in an exhausting cycle of anxiety and sleep deprivation.
This is where a weighted blanket for Asperger’s may prove extremely useful, since a number of studies have shown that the therapeutic deep touch pressure of a weighted blanket can help ease both anxiety and sleep issues, by calming the nervous system.
Here are 5 ways a weighted blankets may help a person with Asperger’s:
1 – May aid better sleep
Weighted blankets are designed to place a gentle, evenly distributed deep touch pressure on the body of the user.
This light pressure has been shown to help the body naturally release melatonin, a hormone linked with sleep.
Since many children with autism are thought to be deficient in melatonin, helping the body to naturally release it may both encourage more restful, healthy sleep.
2 – May help regulate emotions
As well as melatonin, the pressure of a weighted blanket also helps the body release serotonin.
Often termed the ‘happy’ hormone, serotonin helps to calm the nervous system and is linked with mood regulation and relaxation.
At night time, serotonin also undergoes metabolic changes to become melatonin, the chemical that induces sleep.
So using a weighted blanket may help alleviate the everyday build up of stress and overwhelm so commonly linked with Asperger’s Syndrome.
3 – May improve mood
The therapeutic pressure of a weighted blanket has often been likened to the feeling of a warm ‘hug’.
Hugging has long been associated with the release of oxytocin, a hormone sometimes referred to as the ‘cuddle hormone’. This is due to the fact that when we hug or touch someone we love, our oxytocin levels increase.
The gentle weight of weighted blanket helps the body to release oxytocin, which is associated with feeling good, happiness and less stress.
4- May boost immune system
Over time, a cycle of stress and sleep issues, both commonly associated with Asperger’s Syndrome, can weaken the immune system.
As well as helping to reduce stress levels, oxytocin is also thought to play an important role in boosting and regulating the immune system.
5 – Helps provide additional sensory input
It’s common for people with Asperger’s to have a sensory processing disorder (SPD); a condition where the brain has problems processing information received via the senses.
An SPD can manifest as an over or under sensitivity to everyday stimuli such as smell, touch and sound. This can prove overwhelming to someone with Asperger’s, placing additional pressure on the nervous system.
Since it’s common for a person with an under sensitivity to stimuli to crave extra sensory input, the gentle pressure of weighted blanket may prove therapeutic to a person with Asperger’s.
Keep in mind, though, if you or your child has a severe over sensitivity to touch or textures, the additional weight of a weighted blanket may feel too stimulating.
Sometimes, it’s simply a case of trying a blanket to see how it feels, so it’s a good idea to check return policies so you can get a refund if necessary.
If you, or your child, has Asperger Syndrome, a weighted blanket could be the answer to improved relaxation and better quality sleep.
Originally developed as a therapy for children with autism, weighted blankets have been used as a therapeutic aid by occupational therapists for many years.
Recently, they’ve become far more mainstream, with many parents successfully using them as a natural way to manage common symptoms in specific conditions such as Asperger’s Syndrome, autism ADHD and ADD. You can work out what size weighted blanket you’ll need here.
You might also want to consider a weighted lap pad for Asperger’s. More compact than weighted blankets, they rest on the legs and are much more portable, due to their smaller size. This makes them a great sensory tool to use during the day as a calming aid in the home, school, workplace or car.