Thursday, July 5, 2012

Heavy Thoughts and Blankets

So, I haven't posted in a while. Although we've still been doing fun and crafty things around here, it hasn't been as often and I haven't felt like posting. The last month I've been in survival-mode. Things have been really difficult with Mia, my three year old.

I am about 95% sure that she has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) (we are waiting for a more formal evaluation soon). Basically, it's a neurological condition where Mia either over-responds or under-responds to stimulus. So, the many many small sensations most people filter out everyday (sounds, smells, flourescent lighting, touches, etc), Mia cannot always make sense of and she consciously experiences every one (which tires her out very easily, so she needs more sleep than the average kid). What this means for Mia, and our family, is that every day tasks can be extremely difficult. It is hard to even express in words. Simple things like going to the grocery store or brushing her hair can illicit a fight or flight response. By the time we get to the check out line, she is usually moaning and crying (and I don't make long trips). As a parent, I struggle with keeping consistent rules and also being understanding that she is hitting me because having me touch her hair can be excruciating to her. I never know when or what will bother her - and I have to remember that neither does she (which makes for an emotional child sometimes).

Anyway, she was receiving OT services for a couple months (the main treatment for SPD) through an early intervention program but they discontinue when she turns three. The last month I've been on my own and trying to figure out what services are available where, how to access them and what they cost.  Going from finally getting an answer and some support to nothing at all has been so hard. Many people have no idea what its like.  Also, because Mia is such a sweetheart, it's especially hard for friends and family to imagine the challenges that goes along with her SPD day in and day out.

This last week has been better and we're on the road to getting another eval soon and hopefully more help.  And I'm also realizing that I need to be more attentive to my need to have breaks and be creative.

Here is the latest thing I've made (it helps with SPD among other things):

A weighted blanket.

Mia's therapist suggested a weighted blanket and in looking online for some, I realized they can be pricey. But, it seemed simple enough to make her one - so I did. It worked out even better because Mia is invested in it since she got to pick out the (clearance) fabric from the store for it and I got to use up some scraps too.

If you'd like to make one, here's how I did it:

First, I had to figure out how much it should weigh. The standard practice is 10% of the person's body weight, plus one pound. Then I figured out the yardage of fabric I'd need for the size blanket I wanted.  I bought plastic pellets from Micheal's, similar to these. They are kind of expensive (about $9 for 2lb), so each week I went with their 40 or 50% off one item coupon and bought one bag. They are better than using rocks or rice because they are washable and won't mold.

Next, I sewed the quilt top (you can just use one piece of fabric if you don't have a 3 year old that wants a ton of different fabric incorporated in :) and pinned it right-sides-together.  I sewed around the two pieces, leaving one short side open. Next, flip it inside out like a pillow case. I then sewed vertical lines every few inches across. Using a funnel, I added pellets a row at a time to the blanket, then sewed them up, added some more, then sewed across again, repeating until finished.  It was an easy project and it seems to help Mia calm down and transition to bed/nap better (when she will use it ;).


  1. Thanks! For awhile I was bummed because she wouldn't use it...I think just in that "I'm three and like to be contrary" kind of way. But now when she's feeling especially out of sorts and it's time for bed she'll say "I'm cold." Which means she wants the heavy blanket too :) Seems to help and at least it's another option for her to soothe herself when she needs it.