Sensory – Using Weights for Calming

Many kids on the autism spectrum (and other kids as well) are plagued by sensory sensitivities. Weight and pressure and two strategies that can help calm these sensitivities. Let’s look at some weighted products that might help.

Weighted Products

A weighted product is not something you put on in the morning and remove before going to bed. A rule of thumb is to use the product for perhaps 20 minutes then take it off. After 20 – 30 minutes, for most people the body becomes accustomed to that degree of weight and it’s no longer doing its job. Remove it then wait an hour or hour and a half before trying it again.

When you try a weighted product with a child, their reaction will show you quite quickly if this will be a calming strategy for him or her. If the child wants to remove it immediately, let him. This might not be the correct thing for him. But many kids welcome the feeling of weight and are calmed by it.

While it might be a tempting thought to place a twenty pound weight on an extremely active child, don’t do it. Therapists often recommend trying weights that are anywhere from 5 to 10 percent of the child’s body weight.

Since it’s hard to envision these products if you are not familiar with them, I’ll add some pictures. These are just samples; there are many good products out there. Click on the picture to be taken to more details about each item. They’re available is various colors and sizes, including for adults.

Weighted blankets are another alternative. Some kids find them very calming. A perfect combo can be sitting in a bean bag chair, covered with a weighted blanket.

If you’d prefer to sew your own weighted blanket, lap weight, etc., here is a source for the weighted pellets:

Lap weights work well for some kids.

I’ve known kids who sometimes use this next one on their lap and sometimes draped over their shoulders.

As well as offering the feeling of weight, these can provide gentle warmth as well.

Some older students or adults might like ankle weights, such as these. They might make gym time less of a sensory overload experience.

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