Sunday, March 4, 2012

Benefits of Weighted Products to Manage Autism

Autism is caused by a "miswiring" of the sensory integrative system in the brain. In the normal brain, the senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell all talk to each other and reaffirm the input from the surroundings. The brain then can make correct responses to the input received.

In the brain diagnosed with Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders, the senses are not able to communicate correctly with each other and the input becomes overwhelming to the child who then responds in ways that are not socially acceptable, this is not a conscious misbehavior but rather occurs on a subconscious level.

To get a better understanding of what it is like to be inside a body plagued with Autism, try the following:

* Place a bright flashlight behind a running fan.

* Turn a radio on loudly, tuned to static

* Turn on the vacuum cleaner

* Give instructions to your partner for performing a simple task.

The light and fan represent a fluorescent light which blinks at an extremely fast rate that we don't see but appears as a strobe light to the person with Autism.

The radio and vacuum represent the heightened auditory sense that occurs with Autism, which can be traffic passing on the street, noise of children playing, sound of the TV, and other noises in the surroundings that overload the auditory system.

You giving instruction to your partner represent the teacher attempting to teach your distracted child at school or you instructing your child at home while they are being overwhelmed by their senses.

Try doing this for more than a few minutes and you have an idea of what your child goes through 24 hours a day.

In the mystery of Autism, deep pressure has been found to help calm the sensory integrative system, helping the senses to talk to each other through the brain and cause a sense of calm that allows the child to perform more appropriately during the day and sleep more successfully at night.

Weighted products such as vests with weights in the pockets can help during the days. Weighted blankets can help to normalize sleep patterns at night or during rest breaks during the day.

Although weighted products do not work for all children, you can tell if they may help your child. If your child responds to deep pressure like a tight hug or downward pressure on the shoulders, a vest may be appropriate. If your child likes to have a pile of blankets on top of him or even climbs under the mattress and sleeps between the box spring and mattress, this is an indication that a weighted blanket would probably assist your child with sleeping.

An amazing case was reported to me years ago. A 5 year old boy with Autism had never communicated in any way with his Mom and Dad but had only been able to express jabbering words and hand flapping motions which are common in severe Autism. He had only slept 1 hour a night for the 5 years of his life. His parents purchased a vest and a blanket for him at the advise of their occupational therapist.

The child wore the vest the first day, went to bed and slept 12 hours for the first time in his life. Understandably, his parents kept getting up to check that he was alright, which he was. When he finally awoke he took the vest to his Mom and motioned "Put this on me." This was the first communication the child had ever made.

These children are often very bright but are trapped inside bodies that cannot function properly. Somehow, adding deep pressure through weighted products can help them.

If you think these products may help your child, I am here waiting to serve you. I invite you to my website []

Susan Hoffman COTA/L has been Occupational Therapy Assistant for 13 years and has been designing, manufacturing and marketing weighted products for 9 years. State of Maine agencies have been purchasing her products nearly exclusively for the past 7 years because of their high quality, workmanship, price and effectiveness. She invites you to view her products at []

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