Sunday, June 06, 2010

Weighted Blankets for Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder affects about 1 in 150 children. Children with Autism have difficulty staying still and quiet. Weighted blankets have a calming effect and enable the children to sleep through the night. They are also used during the day.

The Joplin, Missouri Project Linus coordinator designed a weighted blanket pattern called Lili's Hug. The pattern is on the national Project Linus website. The blanket is 2 layers of cotton fabric stitched into a series of long skinny pockets that are closed with Velcro (hook & loop tape).

The pockets of the blanket are usually filled by folding old sheets or towels very tightly and inserting into each pocket. The Velcro allows the weights to be removed from the pockets for laundering. The blankets weigh about 15 to 18 pounds, depending on the size and the amount of weight added.

In our most recent Kansas City chapter Project Linus newsletter, we were told that there is a waiting list of about 60 children needing these blankets in the Kansas City area. I decided it was time to make my first weighted blanket.

weighted blanket in jungle print

I used a bright jungle print for the front and denim on the back. You can use quilting cotton on the back, but the denim had been donated for a weighted blanket. Autism affects 4 boys to every 1 girl, so I'll not use girly fabric for weighted blankets.

The weights are added to the pockets after the blankets are turned in to our Project Linus coordinator. If you click on the photo to view the larger version, you can see that this blanket has 12 pockets arranged in 2 columns of 6. The Velcro is on the left and right edges. I put some fleece scraps in the pockets in the right column so it wasn't totally flat for the picture.

This photo shows the Velcro (hook & loop tape) on the opening of one of the pockets. Look closely and you'll see that I double-stitched everything thing to make sure it holds up to stuffing and holding all the weight.

weighted blanket pocket opening

The pattern instructions are written to make a blanket from two 1 yard pieces of 45" wide fabric (1 on the front and 1 on the back). It mentions making them larger or smaller.

In the Kansas City area, larger blankets made from 2 pieces of fabric that are 1 1/8 to 1 1/4 yards long. Be sure to check with your local Project Linus chapter or other organization to find out what is needed in your area if you decide to make one of these blankets.

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