Friday, November 20, 2009

Weighted what?

I mentioned in my last post that I sewed a weighted blanket for Snookie, here's a little bit of the back story on that whole thing... blanket information at the bottom!

A few weeks ago we attended a seminar at a local adoption conference on Sensory Integration Processing Disorders.

We've felt for sometime that Snookie is wired just a little different. All three show a few symptoms that fall into the Sensory Integration set of issues... but Snookie most of all. In the seminar they passed out a set of question that would help us understand how these issues most frequently manifest themselves:

Ever Wonder Why Your Child Does The Things He/She Does?

•Do you wonder why they are excessive risk takers - jumping and crashing into anything they can ?
•Why they can’t do puzzles - write well - or find the coordination for riding a bike or hitting a ball?
•Why they cry or cover their ears with every loud sound - even vacuums, toilets or hairdryers ?
•Why they don’t like to be touched or can’t be touched enough?
•Why they will only eat macaroni and cheese and pizza?
•Why they will only wear certain clothes or need you to cut the tags out of their shirts?
•Ever wonder why you can’t seem to calm them down or get them to sleep?
•Why they won’t put their hands in anything messy or use glue, Play Doh, or play with mud?
•Why they fear playground equipment or being tipped upside down?
•Why crowded stores bother them so much leading to major meltdowns in public places?

So what exactly is sensory processing disorder, here's the definition we were given: Difficulty in the way the brain takes in, organizes, and uses sensory information. Information, causing a person to have problems interacting effectively in the everyday world. What's happening: The child's central nervous system may not receive or detect sensory information. The brain may not integrate, modulate, organize, and discriminate sensory messages effectively. The disorganized brain may send out inaccurate messages to direct the child's actions.

Within the world of sensory input world, there are three systems that can be affected... normally they are working together in harmony, but a person have problems with one, two, or all three systems and that can lead to some real stress! So what are the systems?

-Vestibular Sense: Provides us with information about our bodies in relation to our environment. It affects our balance, movement, and hearing. This is where our Fight/Flight/Freeze response comes from. It includes reflex maturation, and inner ear. Stimulation (or over stimulation) comes from the environment.

  • Willfulness and uncooperative
  • Thrill seeker
  • Difficulty remaining still
  • Likes/dislikes swings, teeter-totters, trampolines
  • Fidgety or clumsy
  • Limp when lifted
  • Sits in "W" position on the floor
  • Has difficulties with digestion and elimination
  • Poor fine and gross motor skills
  • No established hand preference
  • Low tolerance for mental stress

-Proprioceptive Sense: Provides information about our body parts. Affects praxis, calibration, and arousal modulation. Works in conjunction with Vestibular and Tactile Senses. Skin and muscles are its stimulation (or over stimulation) issue. Soothing and calming can come from stretching of deep muscle movement.

  • Prefers to remain still
  • Picky eater
  • Deliberately bumps and crashes into people or objects
  • Head banging, nail biting or knuckle cracking
  • Tight fighting clothing
  • Constantly chewing on objects
  • Aggression
  • Poor body awareness
  • Breaks crayons and pencils (writing with too much downward force)
  • Poor posture
  • Rigid; sticks to what they know
  • Timid or dis regulated in unfamiliar situations

-Tactile Sense: Affects learning, body awareness, calibration, attachment, and social skills.

  • Responds negatively to light and unexpected touch
  • Dislikes having hair brushed or shampooed
  • Over responds to pain or pain agnosia
  • Dislikes brushing teeth
  • Avoids kisses
  • Doesn't like baths
  • Avoids walking bare food or walks on tip toes
  • Wears warm clothes even in the summer
  • Only aware of intense touch
  • Poor body awareness
  • Extreme
Now, I would say a good portion of these would fit the majority of kids... what they are talking about though, is these things are so prominent that they affect how a child (or adult) interacts with the world.

Alright, back to the blanket (sorry that turned out as long as it did... but I wanted you to have a little snippet of understanding as to how it all works inside you ;-)... one of the recommendations to help calm a child and sooth his sensory system is to use a weighted blanket at night. When we got home from the conference I pretty much went right to the computer to find out more about these things. The website we were given at the conference was: After looking at their selection and price, I decided that I wanted to see if I could give it a go on my own! We have several of those fleece blankets around, and it just so happens I have three of exactly the same thing... I thought to myself "Myself, I could use those two blankets as the outer shell... now how would I build it?!" That's when I came across a website (that I can't seem to find) that had an easy pattern for making your own (if anyone is interested in the PDF, leave a comment and I can email a copy to you).

Anyway, since I already had the material... all I needed was the filler. I wanted something washable (there are patterns out that utilize pockets so that the filler can be removed for washing purposes... that's not the direction I went). I went to my local craft store and was able to buy doll filler. This worked out pretty well... as far as getting the right weight (there's a formula for finding the right weight for the person... 10% of body weight plus 1 pound... so Snookie's blanket needed to be 5 pounds).

I completed the project Saturday afternoon, and he has been sleeping with it since Saturday night. Have I seen a difference? Um, I'm not sure. Does he like it? HE LOVES IT. He loves that it stays in it's place (this was one of his biggest problems at night... constantly getting up to try and readjust the blanket so that it was just so). He loves being tucked in tight and not even a sheet around him would stay because he would kick around at night. So far every morning and after nap time he is in the same place he was when I left when he went down, and so is the blanket! So I call it a success!


nicole said...

If he is resting more peacefully than I say definite success! Way to go Mom!

Hartley said...


I came across your blog and had to stop! I have three boys, my oldest is adopted, and all three have some sensory issues--with my oldest have SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder).

The weighted blanket is GREAT! I bought one of those online, from The Original Bean Blanket store and we have more than got our money worth. My oldest uses it at the movie theater, during long car rides, after events or activities (help keep his body from getting too low and exhausted), while watching TV, and ocassionally just for sleeping. LOL

If you need any other ideas for Sensory Diet, let me know, or check out my blog.

Tak care,