Weighted blankets provide deep pressure input and can be used as a calming tool. The calming effects have been found to decrease activity level, increase focus, and improve sleep. Lap pads and “lap snakes” are similar tools but are smaller in size and more commonly used during seated tasks. They can be placed either on the child’s lap or shoulders.
A weighted blanket or “lap snake” can be a helpful sensory strategy for someone who has sensory processing disorder (SPD). For more information about sensory processing, please refer to our website at https://childrenstherapycorner.com/services/occupational-therapy or the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation at http://www.spdfoundation.net/about-sensory-processing-disorder.html. If you feel that your child may be struggling with sensory processing, it is important to discuss these concerns with your physician and receive an evaluation by an occupational therapist. If your child has already been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, consult with your occupational therapist about the benefits of using a weighted blanket or “lap snake” with your child.
There are thousands of weighted blanket options available; performing a Google search yields over 1,000,000 references. If you’re feeling crafty, you may want to explore making a weighted blanket or “lap snake” on your own. Below, a link is provided for making a weighted blanket and instructions for sewing a “lap snake”:
Instructions for sewing a “lap snake”:
- Find long tube socks, one for each “snake”. Alternatively, use thick tights or stockings and cut them off about 18” from the toe. Serge or whipstitch the cut edges.
- Fill each sock with four cups of rice or other similar pellets like pinto beans or split peas.
- Close the end of the tube sock by hand or machine, sewing the opening with small, sturdy stitches.
- If desired, draw a simple face on the sewn side of the sock, making the seam the “mouth”.
Precautions: The weight ratio of the blanket should not exceed 10-15% of the child’s weight. It recommended that you begin with 5% of the child’s weight and make adjustments based on the child’s responses. Make certain that the child is able to remove the blanket easily, the child’s head is not covered and that the weight is evenly distributed throughout the blanket. The blanket should be introduced while the child is in a calm state and it should not be forced if the child presents with an adverse reaction.