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Thread: Weighted Blankets for children with Autism

  1. #1
    Super Member bamamama's Avatar
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    I have been asked by a friend who is a big advocate for Autisium if I could make some weighted blankets for children. Has anyone ever done this? The research I did shows using sicila pellets for the weight. So if I were making a blanket using a Long Arm, I suppose I could load the backing and batting then stitch the top on row by row and sew in the sicila pellets. I could put the pellets in mesh pouches. You need to disbribute the weight evenly.

    Does anyone have any ideas?

  2. #2
    Senior Member quilticing's Avatar
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    Yes, I've seen that method. One I quilted was canvas, front and back, 4" squares. That was pretty heavy all by itself.

  3. #3
    Super Member Shelbie's Avatar
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    I don't have any information to add to your how to list but I know that they are also using weighted coats (Thunder Shirts) for dogs terrified of thunder or riding in vehicles. Some of the dog sites may have information on stitching these that may also help you. I'm thinking that you would need to stitch individual bags filled with pellets and then slide them into channels in your quilt so that they can be removed if the weight needs to be changed. I sort of imagine that the filled bags would somewhat resemble the grain bags that I make (only longer) to fill with wheat to heat in the microwave. These are becoming quite popular so there must be some information out there somewhere. Good luck with this worthwhile project.

  4. #4
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    I have an almost 10 yr old son with Asperger's & when he was younger we had looked into buying a blanket for him. I can't remember now what the price was but it was outrageous.
    What an awesome idea for you to try!

  5. #5
    Super Member grann of 6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bamamama
    I have been asked by a friend who is a big advocate for Autisium if I could make some weighted blankets for children. Has anyone ever done this? The research I did shows using sicila pellets for the weight. So if I were making a blanket using a Long Arm, I suppose I could load the backing and batting then stitch the top on row by row and sew in the sicila pellets. I could put the pellets in mesh pouches. You need to disbribute the weight evenly.

    Does anyone have any ideas?
    Try doing a google search for an article about them. I saw something on TV or internet (don't remember which) about these quilts. It seems to me that one side was left open with velcro so the bags could be taken out for washing. There is a certain way they determine how much weight to use according to the weight and size of the child. Wish I had paid more attention. Good luck! What a great thing for you to do!

    Google "Autism weighted blankets". There is a ton of info. I didn't find a pattern, but you should be able to get enough info to "wing it".

  6. #6
    Super Member RkayD's Avatar
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    the info is out there..i ran across a blog once that had detailed instructions. but i didn't need the info at the time...

  7. #7
    deema's Avatar
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    I know there is someone on this board who has done it...I remember reading about it. I wish I could remember who and point you in her direction.

    Anyway, if I recall correctly, I think what she did was have velcro openings in the back where she placed rows of (whatever the weighted pouches were). The weighted pouches were removable for washing.

    I would probably want to quilt the whole thing, then add the pouches on the back. If you did it in rows instead of individual "bean bag" sized pouches, adding the required fabric shouldn't take too much work.

    For the pouches, I think I would sew long rows (the width of the quilt) to contain whatever you're using to weight it, and then sew lines across to evenly distribute the weighted material to keep it from shifting within the larger row sized pouch.

    I would use a light weight velcro, only because kids with Autism can have textile sensitivities and I wouldn't want the coarse velcro to cause problems with that...I wonder if you could use those metal snap things instead of velcro...? Might irritate sensitivities less.

    Hm. I've never made one of these, and I don't know if my ideas would really work. I'm just kind of typing as I think. I hope some of my thoughts will help you in your process. :o)

  8. #8
    Super Member grann of 6's Avatar
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    Okay, I just went on YouTube. There is a great demonstration by Sensory Direct. Check it out. There is another one by "Stitches byAnne". Her website is www.stitchesbyanne.info

  9. #9
    deema's Avatar
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    http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-51755-1.htm

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-88427-1.htm

    There are a couple of links to posts here about them :) The second one has some links to tutorials for weighted blankets. Good luck!

  10. #10
    Super Member jemma's Avatar
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    another on youtube---a weighted quilt for autisum

  11. #11
    Super Member jdiane318's Avatar
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    I make weighted blankets for our Project Linus group. I have made 412 in 3 years and donated them. We take two pieces of 1 yard x width of fabric and sew them in a tube. We use velcro on both sides of the empty tube to be able to to remove the rolled sheets/towels/bath blankets that we use to stuff them. After the velcro is sewn on both openings, we then stitch a seam down the middle lengthwise. Turn the blanket and sew 6 evenly spaced tubes on the short side. Roll your blankets/towels/sheets and stuff them into the tubes. The weight of the blanket should not weigh more than 10% of the bodyweight plus 1 pound of the child. The child must be able to move the blanket should they need to get up in the middle of the night. If you need more help, please pm me and I will send you a pattern.
    Schools use them as a calming tool during classes. It is sensory issues. They can be made out of duck cloth, cotton, denim, corduroy, I prefer to use a solid and a print that the child likes. Some of the children are non-verbal so to find something that makes them excited and responsive is a huge +.

  12. #12
    Member jjtripletmom's Avatar
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    Attached is a picture of a weighted blanket I made for my daughter with autism. It is actually what began my quilting hobby. After I made this blanket my other daughters wanted me to make "blankets" for them.

    I did I guess what you would call the bean bag technique. I cut rectangles, folded the rectangle in half, sewed (by hand as I didn't have a sewing machine at that time) around the other 3 sides leaving a area to turn it inside out. Then I used a funnel to fill the bag about 1/3 of the way full with polly pellets, then sewed it shut. I then sewed then together to make the blanket.

    This method if very difficult to determine the over-all weight. There is a formula/ratio of weight of child to the weight of the blanket. You don't want it too heavy, but if it isn't heavy enough the child will not receive enough deep pressure. My daughter's blanket was actually too heavy for my daughter when it was first made. She liked the look of it but she didn't really use it because it was too heavy for her. But as she has grown it is appropriate for her now.

    The polly pellets are good to use because they are washable. I used a silky feel edging as kids with autism are very sensory and thought she may like to rub the silky edge. The polly pellets also allow the child to kind of manuver the pellets in it's little bag. That can also meet some sensory needs.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  13. #13
    Super Member bamamama's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdiane318
    I make weighted blankets for our Project Linus group. I have made 412 in 3 years and donated them. We take two pieces of 1 yard x width of fabric and sew them in a tube. We use velcro on both sides of the empty tube to be able to to remove the rolled sheets/towels/bath blankets that we use to stuff them. After the velcro is sewn on both openings, we then stitch a seam down the middle lengthwise. Turn the blanket and sew 6 evenly spaced tubes on the short side. Roll your blankets/towels/sheets and stuff them into the tubes. The weight of the blanket should not weigh more than 10% of the bodyweight plus 1 pound of the child. The child must be able to move the blanket should they need to get up in the middle of the night. If you need more help, please pm me and I will send you a pattern.
    Schools use them as a calming tool during classes. It is sensory issues. They can be made out of duck cloth, cotton, denim, corduroy, I prefer to use a solid and a print that the child likes. Some of the children are non-verbal so to find something that makes them excited and responsive is a huge +.
    That is a huge help, thank you. This is for a friend who works with older children- teenagers. She said that when they have meltdowns the blankets help alot and suggested that the method of quilting in pellets rather than using velcro pouches that could be removed was better because the kids pull them out during those meltdowns. I thought maybe I could do them on my Long Arm by quilting strips, inserting pouches filled with silica pellets and quilting squares/strips as I go along. I have not done any thing like this before am finding lots of info in my research. I'm trying to find a way to make it easy by using my LA to do the quilting. Thanks again.

  14. #14
    Super Member bamamama's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jjtripletmom
    Attached is a picture of a weighted blanket I made for my daughter with autism. It is actually what began my quilting hobby. After I made this blanket my other daughters wanted me to make "blankets" for them.

    I did I guess what you would call the bean bag technique. I cut rectangles, folded the rectangle in half, sewed (by hand as I didn't have a sewing machine at that time) around the other 3 sides leaving a area to turn it inside out. Then I used a funnel to fill the bag about 1/3 of the way full with polly pellets, then sewed it shut. I then sewed then together to make the blanket.

    This method if very difficult to determine the over-all weight. There is a formula/ratio of weight of child to the weight of the blanket. You don't want it too heavy, but if it isn't heavy enough the child will not receive enough deep pressure. My daughter's blanket was actually too heavy for my daughter when it was first made. She liked the look of it but she didn't really use it because it was too heavy for her. But as she has grown it is appropriate for her now.

    The polly pellets are good to use because they are washable. I used a silky feel edging as kids with autism are very sensory and thought she may like to rub the silky edge. The polly pellets also allow the child to kind of manuver the pellets in it's little bag. That can also meet some sensory needs.
    Thats what I had in mind. I wonder if fleece would be a good fabric to use.

  15. #15
    Member jjtripletmom's Avatar
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    I just used cotton. I have not worked much with fleece so I really couldn't advise.

  16. #16
    Super Member purplemem's Avatar
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    I made one for my gnephew, I used thermal blankets for the weights.

    http://www.quiltingboard.com/t-94993-1.htm

  17. #17
    Super Member gramajo's Avatar
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    On p.1 of the June 2011 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine are info & tips for making a weighted blanket. It says to type AllPeopleQuilt.com/482 into your browser to find out how to get a free pattern from the Craft Nectar blog (craftnectar.com).

    Hope this will help.

    P.S. I got my magazine in the mail today so it should be on newstands soon (if it isn't already).

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    Super Member gale's Avatar
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