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Blankets: How to use blankets as a sensory aid

Blankets are not just for keeping warm on cold winter nights, they can also serve as a valuable tool for promoting sensory regulation. Sensory aids are essential for people who experience various sensory processing difficulties, such as autism spectrum disorder, anxiety disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

Sensory regulation is the process of managing and integrating incoming sensory information from the environment effectively. When individuals receive overwhelming sensory input, they may become overloaded and exhibit sensory meltdowns, anxiety or become withdrawn. Sensory aids, such as blankets, can help to regulate an individual's sensory input, promoting a sense of calmness, reducing stress and anxiety. Sensory regulation is crucial for improving the quality of life for individuals with sensory processing difficulties.


Blankets for children with sensory processing difficulties

There is a wide range of sensory aids available for people who experience sensory processing difficulties. One of the most popular and affordable is a simple blanket. The use of a weighted blanket has been found to have a calming effect on the nervous system, which leads to improved sleep, a reduction in anxiety and a better overall sense of calmness. The use of blankets as sensory aids is supported by research findings. According to the Journal of Sleep Medicine Disorder, the use of weighted blankets reduced sensory overload and improved sleep among individuals with autism spectrum disorder.


Blanket Weight

The weight of the blanket is crucial when selecting a sensory aid. The recommended weight for the sensory blanket should be approximately 5-10% of an individual's body weight. A weighted blanket will provide deep touch and pressure stimulation that helps to relieve anxiety, stress, and its effect lasts for a period of time even after the removal of the blanket from the individual.


Deep Touch Sensations

In addition to reducing anxiety, blankets can also help to improve focus and attention. Studies have found that deep touch sensations, such as those provided by a blanket, help to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, leading to improved concentration and focus. Individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been found to benefit significantly from the use of blankets as sensory aids. The touch of a sensory blanket helps to calm the senses and reduce the urge to fidget or engage in other distracting behaviors.


Sensory Blanket Guidelines

Using a sensory blanket is easy, and anyone can benefit from it. However, it is important to follow certain guidelines to reap maximum benefits.

Here are some tips on using blankets effectively as sensory aids:

  1. First, select a weighted blanket with a weight of approximately five to ten percent of your body weight for maximum sensory input.
  2. Secondly, when using a sensory blanket, ensure that it covers the entire body, including the legs. Wrapping yourself up with a sensory blanket fully can provide the deep touch and pressure stimulation required for sense of calmness and relaxation.
  3. Thirdly, use the blanket in a quiet, dimly lit environment with minimal distractions. This helps to limit sensory overload to maximise the calming effect of the blanket.

In conclusion, blankets are a valuable resource that can be used as sensory aids for individuals who experience sensory processing difficulties. The use of blankets helps to regulate sensory input, reducing anxiety, stress, and promoting relaxation. The benefits of using blankets as sensory aids are scientifically supported, with social marketers tapping into the growing market and creating new innovations of the sensory aids for their customers. Hopefully, the tips shared in this article will help individuals experiencing sensory processing difficulties to live happier, healthier lives, while creating awareness for the broader public to adopt sensory aids into their daily living habits.

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