Friday, May 4, 2012

The Magical Blanket

Did you ever have one of those tags on your shirt that drives you batty? Ugh, I've had a few of them that I finally just yanked off my shirt - not caring about the holes it most likely would leave behind. And, Jason has this pair of socks (that I'll admit I "borrow" from time to time) that have this annoying pattern that creates these little nubs on the inside of the socks - they bug me, those little nubs. Despite these annoyances I eventually forget about it and go on about my day. Unfortunately, some people don't have that luxury. They suffer from something called Sensory Processing Disorder. Abby is one of them.

Several years ago we noticed that there were certain things that Abby wasn't "getting over" as she got older. Things like clipping her fingernails and brushing or cutting her hair were near to impossible. When she heard loud noises, or walked into large unfamiliar rooms she would experience a sever panic - covering her ears, crying and shaking from fear. There were even times when she would tell me the water in the bath was too hot, and I knew it wasn't. The thing is, I knew from being a teacher that there were some children who's brains couldn't filter things, or who had nervous systems that needed a little more input in order to help them remain calm. I was beginning to wonder if Abby had some of these issues. I was convinced that the things she was experiencing were not due to her developmental delays. We talked with the doctor and were put in touch with a clinic. After meeting with us and talking to the head therapist she had a wonderful explanation that made total sense to me. Abby spent a month in the NICU after she was born, and although she didn't remember that time, her nervous system did. In essence she "learned" to stay on high alert. The therapist asked us to imagine what we would feel like at the end of the day if we were getting constant shots of adrenalin throughout the day. We too would have a hard time settling down.

For a year we drove twice a week (an hour each way) so Abby could have therapy. We tried joint compressions (which helped - and sometimes still does), using a soft brush on her arms and legs to give her more input, a weighted vest, even swinging her in a bedsheet, all in an effort to help her settle down, especially before bedtime. Eventually, the drive became too much and the sessions made our days too long. We weren't seeing any great progress, so we stopped going. That doesn't mean we stopped trying to help her.

This all has been on my mind lately because I believe this inability to calm herself and get enough input has a lot to do with the fact that she is such a poor sleeper. One of the main reasons I got a sewing machine a month ago was so I could make her a weighted blanket. The thing is, I  never got around to doing it, until today.

Since we had a long day with conferences yesterday, today we had a day off of school. I was secretly looking forward to the fact that Abby did have school, because that gave me a day to do whatever I wanted. That didn't work out because she still was sick, so I kept her home. She was in a pretty good mood, and it ended up being a good day, but round about 1:30 I just was too tired, so I convinced her that it would be "so fun" to go up to Mom and Dad's bedroom and turn the T.V. on while we cuddled. My real hope was that she would be distracted by the T.V. and I could get some rest. It sort of worked out, but once again her legs just wouldn't stop. This is typical of her. Often when we are trying to get her to sleep her legs and feet will constantly be moving and her boney little toes will dig painfully into our legs. So after about 45 minutes I made a decision. We would be heading to the store and a blanket would be made.

Each of those squares hold about 3 oz. of
pellets and adding up to 6 pounds total.
She was great in the fabric store, and was so excited to pick out the fabric for her new blanket. We got home and I got to work. I made it as if it were a comforter with a duvet cover. I'd bought some plastic pellets, six pounds worth to be exact, and slowly began "filling" up the blanket in a grid pattern. Then I got working on the outside cover. Finally, by 8:00 I was finished, just in time for bedtime. Abby was thrilled to try it out and we were curious to see if there would be a difference.

The first thing I noticed was that as she laid next to me, covered in that blanket, her legs were still. This was enough to astound me, but what came next had Jason and I looking at each other in disbelief. Within ten minutes Abby was asleep. What!?! Could it be the blanket? I suppose only time will tell, but  the thought that we might have found something that will help her, makes me happy, very happy indeed!

I put buttons on the inside along the bottom so that
it would be easy to take the cover off for washing. Don't you
love the froggies?

Happy girl!

Abby colored a pretty picture today.

She also decided it was time that Bruiser learned to
work on the computer.


  1. I keep saying I'm making one for Hailey. I realized that a heavy blanket she has made her sleep longer and deeper before I had even heard of a weighted blanket. Hopefully I get motivated sooner rather than later :-)

  2. I'm amazed at what a difference that blanket makes. Once again, tonight she went right to sleep and there was very little "wiggling". I was playing around with writing up the directions and putting them on here as a tutorial for anyone else that wants to make one. It is a bit of a cumbersome process, but it's much better (and cuter) than paying $80 for one. ;-)