Effective Autism Sensory Toys: Can Weighted Blankets Help?

Oct 14, 2022 • Luna Blanket

If you, a loved one, or maybe your child has autism, you know the value of having a good mix of the best sensory toys and tools on hand to help with processing. Here at Luna, we have gotten a lot of rave reviews from happy customers who found sensory overload relief or sensory processing support from using a weighted blanket for autism symptoms.

In addition to a weighted blanket, we pulled together some other helpful sensory toys for autism and explained a bit about how each tool can help mitigate some common autism-related symptoms. Read on below. 

Why Autism Sensory Toys May Help With Relaxation & Focus

Not every person with autism experiences the same level of sensory overload or sensitivity, hence why autism — for a variety of reasons — is referred to as a spectrum. Along the spectrum exists both hypersensitivity, in which external stimuli are overwhelming and result in a mental or emotional “traffic jam,” to some, and hyposensitivity, in which the person is quite under-responsive to any external stimuli at all. Surprisingly, sensory toys can help with either end of the spectrum because it occupies a part of the brain that may overreact or under-react, resulting in more ability to focus and a sense of calm. 

Great Sensory Products for Autism

Experts describe the autism symptom of sensory processing difficulties like the aforementioned traffic jam — the signals make it into the brain, but they get bottlenecked once they get there. This can manifest as frustration, meltdowns, and/or anxiety. Sensory toys and tools may be able to help children (and adults) with autism approach stimuli in a way that’s more aligned with their preferred way of processing the experience, which can ease symptoms and lead to fewer meltdowns.

When kids use sensory toys, they get the proprioceptive input they need without feeling as overwhelmed by sight, sound, and touch. So let’s get into a few of these sensory processing tools:

1. Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets provide firm yet gentle pressure when draped over the body — similar to a tight, loving hug that makes you feel relaxed with the warm and fuzzies. Sleep science has shown that people who use a weighted blanket feel calmer and less anxious thanks to this effect. This concept is actually called Deep Pressure Stimulation and is a modality commonly used by therapists in clinical settings to help calm autistic patients since this pressure and touch promote natural serotonin and melatonin production in the brain.

A weighted blanket is tool to help reap the calming benefits of Deep Pressure Stimulation right at home when you may need it most during an overwhelming day or before bed. A weighted blanket for autism could be a fantastic tool in your sensory processing toolkit to help provide in-the-moment relief and comfort. 

2. Sensory Mats

Sensory mats are often fun-colored and interestingly textured mats that create a fun and tangible experience for someone with autism. While typically for children, there are certainly benefits of using sensory mats that adults with autism can also enjoy. This tactful toy is fun for hands and feet and provides enough stimulation to help those with autism both calm down and find it easier to focus. 

3. Putty, Sand, or Slime 

Materials like silly putty, kinetic sand, or slime (which you can actually make right at home) are also great options for stimulating that wandering or overwhelmed part of the brain. These substances provide an interesting tactile sensation so as someone with autism plays with it, turning it over or pulling and rolling it in their hands, they feel more relaxed and able to process other external stimuli. 

4. Compression Therapy Swing

More closely related to the weighted blanket we have the compression therapy swing. While this option is more expensive, we wanted to give you a range of tools for you to learn about so you could choose what you, your loved one, or your autistic child may like best!

A compression therapy swing is a loose piece of strong fabric that provides a swaddling effect, not exactly like but not unlike a hammock. Similar to the Deep Pressure Stimulation provided by a therapist or a weighted blanket, the tight squeeze of the swing can help provide relief from anxiety or increase the ability to process and focus.

Add a Luna Weighted Blanket to Your Sensory Processing Toolkit!

As mentioned, many of our customers have left reviews telling us that their Luna weighted blanket helps relieve anxiety and racing thoughts and makes them or their children feel more relaxed and calm. We hope you will find many weighted blanket benefits that can help you or your child with their autism symptom just like these other Luna buyers.

Be sure to check out our children’s line of weighted blankets and select a good weight, and a fun fabric pattern or calming monochrome option that your child will love. A weighted blanket is a great sensory toy to keep on hand at home.

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