WEIGHTED BLANKETS, ADHD, AND ME
My nephew’s foot bounced furiously under the table while he chewed the eraser off the end of the pencil. “Ty, what’s three times seven? Come on, you know this.” I tried to be as encouraging as possible, but we were both quickly becoming frustrated. He threw the pencil down, shoved his chair backwards and shouted, “I don’t know!!” His inability to concentrate and the dark circles under his eyes hinted at a lack of sleep, to which his mother attested. He had never been a good sleeper, but his sleeping patterns had become even more unpredictable since he had begun to struggle in school.
Data indicates that as of 2011, as many as 6.4 million children ages 4-11 in the United States, children very similar to Ty, had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder. This disorder is classified by three different subtypes. Inattentive type refers to those individuals who are easily distracted and unfocused in a significant enough way that it begins to disrupt daily functioning. Those who are primarily hyperactive and impulsive causing the same kind of disruption to functioning are classified as Hyperactive-Impulsive type. And as the name would indicate, those with characteristics of both aforementioned groups are classified under Combined type.
Most commonly used for diagnosis are the daytime symptoms: restlessness, inappropriate outbursts, inability to focus or concentrate, rapid movement, difficulty taking turns or sharing, etc. Often going unnoticed are the nighttime signs: difficulty falling asleep, waking often in the middle of the night, or waking much earlier than needed.
There is much talk about ethics with regard to medicating children – some are greatly supportive of the treatment option while others are firmly against it. In a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, it was concluded that 1 in 4 preschoolers diagnosed with ADHD between 2009-2010 were treated only with medication. More recent research recommends action begin with behavior therapy and non-medication forms of treatment before beginning a medication regimen. While some parents prefer medication as a remedy for their children’s disruptive behavior, many remain skeptical about the long term consequences of introducing their children to chemical substances at such a young age.
WEIGHTED BLANKETS FOR ADHD
An alternative approach rapidly gaining popularity is the use of weighted blankets as a calm-inducing form of treatment. The use of weight as a therapeutic technique is associated with relatively low risk and is accessible at a low cost in comparison to other treatment options. Clinically referred to as deep-touch therapy, the use of items such as weighted blankets brings to mind an image swaddling or wrapping a young child in a blanket to promote a sense of security and serenity. Studies indicate two very different forms of touch exist: light touch tends to alert the central nervous system whereas deep, or pressured, touch calms and relaxes. Gently-applied, deep pressure encourages the body’s production of serotonin, which in turn elevates a person’s mood. The serotonin is converted by the body into melatonin prompting tiredness and sleep in a natural pattern – essentially, this deep pressure promotes the brain and body to work together to function on a self-regulated sleep cycle.
While the qualities exhibited by an individual with ADHD may lead one to believe it is exclusively a childhood disorder, it is important to note adults can also be subject to symptomology characteristic of ADHD. There is a tendency toward inattentiveness rather than hyperactivity, and as much as 80 percent of adults with ADHD experience disordered sleep. As a treatment option, weighted blankets could provide an adult with similar feelings of calmness and relaxation. Sleep of increased quality and length could then, in turn, improve daily functioning.
WHERE TO BUY WEIGHTED BLANKETS FOR ADHD
Weighted blankets for ADHD are currently on sale from Yorkville Blankets. Yorkville blankets are a premium quality blanket brand that are affordable enough to try out if you are buying your first weighted blanket but are high quality and made to last. Yorkville Weighted Blankets provide sensory input without too much heat so you can get a good night sleep without tossing and turning or overheating. These weighted blankets can be purchased here or on Amazon.