When it comes to sensory processing and even emotional regulation, the right sensory tools can make all the difference.
Sensory Tools to Help Your Child:
Weighted blankets serve many purposes. Here are some of the potential benefits for adults and children:
- firm, gentle pressure provides proprioceptive sensory feedback
- eases insomnia
- produces a calming effect for some who have sensory processing disorder
- lowers stress
- reduces anxiety
- improves focus in those with ADHD
- better overall quality of sleep
- helps with emotional regulation and mood
- can be used for other physical and mental health concerns such as restless leg syndrome, PTSD, autism, OCD, and fibromyalgia
A good night’s sleep is so important for us to function the next day, not to mention our overall physical and mental health. Using a weighted blanket can help you fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and wake up feeling more rested.
Weighted blankets are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety.
It accomplishes all of these impressive things through something called deep touch pressure stimulation therapy.
What is deep touch pressure stimulation therapy?
Deep touch pressure stimulation therapy is firm but gentle pressure applied through squeezing, hugs, or holding techniques that relax the nervous system. This produces a calming, soothing effect that can lower anxiety.
This pressure can be applied with an actual hug or through the hands such as a massage or through tools or products such as weighted blankets, neck wraps, compression sheets, or specialized clothing.
Deep touch pressure stimulation increases serotonin and dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitters and lowers cortisol, the stress hormone.
The pressure of a weighted blanket in some ways recreates the feeling of a hug. Now more than ever, that is so needed. This can be so reassuring for kids who may feel anxious at night without their parent.
When it comes to weighted sensory tools, it’s important that you get the right weight. Weighted blankets should not be used with infants and toddlers or those with certain health conditions. Consult your doctor before beginning to use a weighted blanket for yourself or your child.
Compression sheets work in much the same way as weighted blankets do. They provide firm, constant pressure in a gentle way.
They also offer essentially the same benefits because they provide deep touch pressure stimulation.
It’s a bit like swaddling a baby. Of course, it isn’t safe to use these sheets with infants or toddlers. You want to ensure that your child can safely crawl out of the sheet themselves.
While the obvious benefits are improved sleep, lowered anxiety, and sensory needs being met, these can also be used during the day to calm your child if you sense that a sensory meltdown is coming on.
The Huggaroo Pouch compression sheet fits your child’s bed like a sock, open on both top and bottom but snug around. It’s smooth and stretchy, offering tactile and proprioceptive sensory feedback. It’s a great alternative to a weighted blanket for those that don’t want the heavy weight or heat of a weighted blanket.
The benefits of weighted neck wraps are again similar to those of weighted blankets. One of the nice things about neck wraps is that they are more portable, and can therefore be used at home, in school, or in other settings.
Some of my kids with sensory processing disorder have found that neck wraps help them when they need focus and concentration such as when they are writing an exam. Weighted neck wraps can be particularly beneficial for those with sensory processing disorder, autism, or ADHD. They can help reduce excessive movement and provide more focus and calming.
I like the Huggaroo Weighted Neck Wraps. They are microwavable so they can be warmed. The combination of the proprioceptive pressure and the warmth is particularly soothing.
These are available in unscented or a subtle lavender scent which adds to the calming effect.
You can also set them in your child’s lap so they can double as a lap pad!