Weighted Therapy - Weight vs Pressure
Weighted Therapy can be introduced in a number of ways - one way is by using Weighted Blankets. Some Occupational Therapists now recommend that a weighted blanket is used under the supervision of an adult at all times. For use at night this effectively means staying with your child until they have gone to sleep and then removing the weighted blanket. This is sensible advice, however it can cause practical difficulties. For example;
- Your child may not go off to sleep with you in the room or
- They may wake in the night and be unable to go back to sleep without their weighted blanket.
The important thing here is to speak to your OT and follow their advice, as they will know your child. If your child is very young or on the small side your OT may well recommend supervision at all times. If your child is older, you follow some basic safety guidelines and use some common sense, then your OT may consider it safe to leave a weighted blanket on all night.
I left my son with his weighted blanket all night for many years. It was very important that I made sure it was not too heavy (less than 10% of his body weight) and that he could remove it himself if he became uncomfortable or too hot. I would also check up on him regularly throughout the night.
Whichever advise your OT may recommend, this can be both confusing and concerning for parents.
Compression Bed Socks
Compression Bed Socks can provide an alternative to the issue of 'leaving on or taking off'. The Compression Bed Socks are a fixed (but not permanent), breathable*, lycra based bed sheet that fits directly over a single mattress.
How Do They Work?
With two open ends, a child can easily climb under the bed sock and manoeuvre themselves into a secure and comfortable position to sleep. Imagine as an infant the desire to feel wrapped up or 'swaddled' for comfort; the Compression Bed Socks work on this same principle, applying consistent pressure, to relax, calm and provide comfort to sensory seekers.
Unlike the 'on/off' issue with Weighted Blankets, Compression Bed Socks are designed to stay on the mattress throughout the night. They provide consistent pressure without the worry of having to remove once asleep. Helping the whole household have a good night's sleep!
Weighted Therapy Benefits
Whether you choose a Weighted Blanket or a Compression Bed Sock is down to personal preference and from following advice from your OT. Either way, Weighted Therapy can benefit those who;
- Have difficulty unwinding, relaxing and sleeping
- Have a short attention span and are easily distracted
- Show tactile sensitivity - i.e. a need to touch everything or are resistant to touch
- Have a poor awareness of their body or body position
- Display self-stimulatory behaviour such as rocking, twirling and chewing
For more information on Weighted Blankets and Compression Bed Socks please click the following links;
*Whilst the lycra material is breathable it is not recommended to let children sleep with their head inside the bedsock. Always ensure the child is comfortable and can breathe freely.
For safety issues, Sensory Direct do not recommend the use of a Weighted Blanket and a Compression Bed Sock at the same time. Whilst a Weighted Blanket can be easily removed in isolation, whilst covering a Compression Bed Sock the ability to freely remove the blanket would be diminished, therefore potentially leading to overheating.