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Thread: Making Autistic Weighted Blankets

  1. #1
    Senior Member All Thumbs's Avatar
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    Ah-h, Saturday was a rewarding day for me and I would like to share with you my Project Linus project.

    About 20-25 women showed up for our semi-annual blanket day. Oh, we complained as we trekked across the hot parking lot in the blasted full summer's sun dragging our machines and supplies but once we got set up and partook of coffee and donut holes, we were off and running for six hours of sewing. Heat index was well over 100 degrees when we left around 3p.m.

    This particular day we were making autistic weighted blankets. (Photo below.) It was explained that a weighted quilt induces chemicals within an autistic child’s mind and results in his/her becoming calmer. These quilts have six velcor pockets containing wide strips of recycled hospital blankets.

    The expensive commercial quilts have poly pellets in them but some thought a pet or child could possibly chew through the fabric making a hazard. Therefore, a member in our area has come up with local hospitals donating sheets (sterilized of course) and after ripping them into wide strips, rolling the strips, and stuffing into the tubes, they make a perfect weighted blanket which can also be washed. Great Green Earth idea too! Now, attaching that heavy velcor is like fighting a bear and a half. But we struggled our way through the day making a total of 40+ quilts.

    Project Linus is a national chapter; does anyone else work as a volunteering blanketeer? It is very beneficial to children and generally results in a full day of fun and giggles amongst a bunch of quilters.
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  2. #2
    Junior Member woody1229's Avatar
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    As the mom of a severely autistic child, we are so grateful when wonderful people like you do something so meaningful and helpful for our kids! Do you know that those weighted blankets cost $70-$150 retail? Schools and agencies have had their budgets slashed so these kinds of items are hard to come by these days. Not to mention that parents with autistic children have unbelievable financial burdens. You are truly doing God's work, and we thank you!!!!

  3. #3
    Power Poster Rhonda's Avatar
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    Such a wonderful thing you are doing! I have a 9 yr old autistic grandson and yes these blankets are a life savor. They help so much when the child is feeling overwhelmed and can't deal with his emotions. An autistic child has so much to deal with that is hard to imagine if you haven't been around someone who is autistic. They need the physical stimulation of sensory(textures)to be calm. Zach has what we call meltdowns and this is one way of calming him.

    My daughter made her own version of one. They are quite expensive if you buy one.

  4. #4
    Moderator littlehud's Avatar
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    What a wonderful thing to do. What a great productive day.

  5. #5
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    How do you wash these? Do you remove the rolled up pieces of fabric before washing them?

  6. #6
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    Neat idea! Could you tell us the size and approximate weight when finished with the weight in the blanket in case we want to give it a try?

  7. #7
    Senior Member All Thumbs's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone for your kudos in working with charity functions, but I really was not looking for praise--just wanted to share my blanket experience. I am so hopeful that the child who sleeps under it will soon have a good night and that the entire family will benefit too.

    Yes, bearisgray, the parents would take all the sheets out from the tubes which have velcor closings. The entire blanket is washable. Then reroll sheets and restuff.

    susiequilt, if you visit
    http://www.projectlinus.org/patterns/wb.html
    one can see the instructions. However, please be advised that this is a copyrighted pattern and there are restrictions in using it. You might want to read through the home page as I am not a chapter coordinator so do not know the procedure for making contributions nor obtaining permission in using the pattern. I just know there are rules about it. Are there any other Project Linus people here on this Board? Maybe you would have knowledge about this copyright.

  8. #8
    Power Poster Rhonda's Avatar
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    I would like to explain the function of these blankets. They are not for sleeping they are for rolling the child in it when they are in need of calming. At least we don't use them for bedding. When Zach was younger he would climb in between the bottom sheet & the bare mattress. It would do the same thing with blankets on the bed. He would find an edge and tunnel under all the bedding. It soothes his nerves.

    It is sort of like when you have a migraine and you retreat to a dark room. It is a sensory issue not necessarily bedding. It is a tool to use when they have a hard time dealing.

  9. #9
    Super Member rootyr's Avatar
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    Kudos to all of you!

  10. #10
    Super Member Ditter43's Avatar
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    Thank you all for sharing this information. I think it's great that so many volunteer thier time and money for this most worthy cause. :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:

  11. #11
    Senior Member All Thumbs's Avatar
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    Thank you for your correction, Rhonda. I am fortunate not to have an autistic child in my family and just assumed the blankets were for getting a child to sleep and then a parent would take the weight off the child. Perhaps this explains the comment one made to me once by saying, the quilts are like giant gentle hugs to quiet a child. lol

    Sometimes we volunteers do not get the complete story. I will correct myself when I go to Guild next time. Thank you again and God bless you and your grandchild.

  12. #12
    Super Member aorlflood's Avatar
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    Wow! You learn something new everyday!

    I'm so glad your group was able to make these! Kudos to all of you!

  13. #13
    Power Poster Rhonda's Avatar
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    It is hard to understand these kids needs if you aren't around someone who is autistic. It has been along haul for us in learning how to help Zach. We have had so much frustration with communnication problems and figuring out why he does or feels what he does.

    It is so wonderful to have people like you ladies who are willing to help provide a tool that will make these kids' lives better! It is so much more important for these kids than a cuddly blanket to sleep with. This affects the quality of their lives.

    For some reason their brain is such that they need to be in close tight places and this blanket will provide that feeling of being closed in. This need drives my mom crazy as she is claustrophobic and can't stand to see Zach shut himself into her coat closet. She wants to tear the door open and save him! I have had to explain that he is hunting for a closed in place to releave these feelings.

    He used to drag my couch over by my table and pull all sorts of things into a small area and created a cockpit like area that he could hide in. Or he would curl up in a box and close the flaps. The smaller the box the better.

    So the weighted blanket serves two purposes. It provides the sensory feeling of weight and it is a closed in place they can huddle in. Actually 3 because if the child is having a meltdown or severe tempertantrum they can't come out of- then the blanket can be used to put around the child and hold them close til they can calm down.

  14. #14
    Power Poster Rhonda's Avatar
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    Just one more comment and then I will be quiet! LOL
    We have found with Zach that the more texture you use in the fabric the better. Smooth is not the best choice. I don't know if you have any say in this but thought I would pass it along. My DD had me make a blanket with several differant textures in it and he runs his hands over them and it calms him. Satisfying the sensory needs is every bit as important to these kids as breathing and eating are.

  15. #15
    sewbusy's Avatar
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    Wow I sure learned a lot today, thanks for sharing.

  16. #16
    Senior Member All Thumbs's Avatar
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    Excellent comments and suggestions, Rhonda! I certainly will mention the textured fabrics to my metro-coordinator. I have some rough fabric for a chair cover. Maybe that will work for at least one side. Thank you.

  17. #17
    Power Poster Rhonda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by All Thumbs
    Excellent comments and suggestions, Rhonda! I certainly will mention the textured fabrics to my metro-coordinator. I have some rough fabric for a chair cover. Maybe that will work for at least one side. Thank you.
    You're welcome. The only reason I know so much about this is my daughter keeps me informed on all she learns and she teaches me so I can use these things when I have Zach. I have him two weekends a month and sometimes other times as well. So this is an ongoing learning process for me.

    She and I just talked about these blankets the other day.

  18. #18
    Super Member wvdek's Avatar
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    Thanks for the information and God Bless you for your efforts.

  19. #19
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    I have learned to much from this topic. Thank you all for sharing this information about autisum.

  20. #20

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    WOW Would love to know how u made that. My grandson is Autistic and i think that would help him so much. GOD BLESS YOU and all that help made them. It's ppl like u all that really show love. THANK U ALL SO MUCH

  21. #21
    saf45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sewbusy
    Wow I sure learned a lot today, thanks for sharing.

  22. #22
    Super Member nanabirdmo's Avatar
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    Such a wonderful thing you are doing. All who are involved in good works such as this are a blessing and in turn are blessed.

  23. #23
    Power Poster cjomomma's Avatar
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    Wow this thread was definitely a educating one. Thank you Rhonda for all the information on autism. And thank you all thumbs for all you are doing to help with the quilts.

  24. #24
    Super Member mimee4's Avatar
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    This thread is so full of info. I appreciate that each of you was willing to teach us about autism. I don't know anyone who is autistic but this opens doors when I do meet someone. Thank you so much, each of you.

  25. #25
    Super Member Grama Lehr's Avatar
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    Thank you for the insight, I didn't know...

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