Thursday, December 2, 2010

Swings and Weighted Blankets

As I've talked about before, it's a necessary part of Sadie's day to bounce. We've busted through one bouncy chair and are on our second, which she is getting dangerously big for. (I say dangerously because it may be a rough couple of days when we have to finally stop using the bouncy chair) However, in those (not so) rare times when the bouncy chair just won't do (or is unavailable), we've found that swinging Sadie in a blanket works well. This requires 2 people, each holding two corners of a blanket, and while Sadie lays in the center of the blanket, the two people swing her from side to side. We reserve blanket swinging for emergencies as it requires a lot more effort than the bouncy chair.

We have been talking for a while about what we're going to do once the bouncy chair is no longer an option for us, and the best solution we've come up with is a therapy swing. Preferably, a swing that is shaped like a hammock. There are a MILLION different kinds of therapy swings, we've come to find out, and they're not cheap! But we found someone locally who makes them and sells them at a reasonable price. (you can check them out here: Affordable Therapy Solutions)

Of course I called this company and asked if we could come by and try it out before we bought one. I also confirmed that they have a return policy I could live with. What they told me was that I could absolutely return their product if it wasn't working out for me. They also said we could come try out the swing first, just call ahead of time so they're ready for us. I sort of got the impression they were operating this business out of their garage, but quickly dismissed that because how in the world would they have room in their house for this kind of business?!

When we finally got out there to try out a swing, we learned that they were indeed operating out of their home. It's just a husband and wife (and a bunch of neighbor kids) doing this whole thing. They have 2 autistic kids, one who's pretty high-functioning, the other seemed to be non-verbal and have some violent tendencies. And there were hooks mounted in their ceiling in just about every room! They had the perfect special needs kid house!

We tried out a couple of different kinds of swings, which Sadie seemed to hate (I think she was pretty overstimulated), and settled on buying the one made out of a canvas material rather than the stretchy lycra material. Then we asked them about weighted blankets.

Weighted blankets are something that was suggested to us a long time ago by multiple therapists. They can help give a child (or adult) that deep pressure body awareness that they're seeking. Weighted blankets can be calming for sleeping or just when your child is having a sensory meltdown. And once these were mentioned to me, I noticed that Sadie really likes to be held tight when she's nursing (especially if I'm trying to get her to fall asleep). Often when she wakes in the night, all she needs is me to put my hand on her and apply a little pressure for her to fall back asleep on her own. This is also how I get her to calm down and fall back asleep if I've pulled her into my bed with me. The problem was that all the weighted blankets we saw were $300+!! We had talked about making our own...with rice. But, how were we going to insure that it'd be washable (Sadie has sort of a puking issue, if you haven't heard.) And we had this big, complicated idea where we'd have cells in the blanket and pockets of rice that would be removable somehow so we could wash the blanket. Yeah right, like that was going to happen!!

So, when I learned that this couple who runs this company has weighted blankets for $50, I got really excited!! Something I had read was that you don't want the blanket to be more than 10% of the child's weight. Sadie weighs 19 pounds, but all I saw were 5 pound blankets...I figured that'd have to work. But when we got there they said they also make 3 pound blankets, only they didn't have any currently made so we couldn't take one with us that day. Bummer. I was more excited about the blanket than the swing, especially after seeing Sadie's reaction to the swing.

They'd have to make us one and send it in the mail. But I was supposed to pick out what I wanted it to look I cared. I told them it really didn't matter to me what it looked like, but she pulled up her website quickly on the computer and was showing me the patterns to choose from. They were hard to see and I was having a hard time choosing, so she goes, "forget it, come with me..." and she let me upstairs. The upstairs of their house had been taken over by their business. I think they had even kicked the children out of the bedrooms and they were sleeping on a mattress on the floor in the den (where there was another swing hanging from the ceiling)! She led me into a room that had a GIANT sewing table/cutting board in it (so jealous) and in the closet were huge bolts of all sorts of fabrics to make blankets out of, both fleece and flannel. I got to customize Sadie's blanket with the fabrics I wanted. Then she showed me what she puts in the blanket to weight it. It was like glass sand. She quilts these tiny tiny glass beads into the blanket, and because they're glass, it's washable!! Very cool.

So, our weighted blanket came in the mail this week. It feels VERY heavy. You'd think 3 pounds is light, but it feels much heavier than 3 pounds. It's super cute and Sadie likes it. I've been putting it on her at night and during naps. She no longer lays in her bed and screams. And at night, she no longer kicks and rolls the blanket off of her. It probably keeps her warm too. I'm really excited about this!

If you have a special needs kid or know someone who does, check out Affordable Therapy Solutions they are so great. They understand that a family with a special needs kid doesn't have a bunch of money lying around to just spend on therapy products...and they can be EXPENSIVE! So, they make them affordable (hence the name). They will ship all over the country, and they're return policy is amazing.

As far as weighted blankets go, you can read more about their therapeutic uses here. But, you don't have to have special needs to benefit from a weighted blanket. I recommend buying one for yourself or for your "normal" kid. They are cozy and appealing to a lot of people who need that deep pressure input. It might just be that great Christmas present you've been looking for!!

1 comment:

  1. Just a word of caution, weighted blankets can be dangerous if not used properly. I would be very careful about leaving a weighted blanket on her all night. If you haven't already, I would talk to her OT about it's use with Sadie. We had a weighted vest given to us and we were told not to use it with Sophie.
    For sleeping, we would bunny Sophie very tightly and it worked well.

    I am glad you found a swing hammock for her, it sounds like a nice one!