October is Canadian Autism Awareness and Acceptance month, with Autism Canada using the time to create a community of inclusivity and raise awareness of the challenges of living with autism. On Saturday, Oct. 20, Autism Day will be celebrated in partnership with the Toronto Argonauts, with a percentage of the proceeds from tickets purchased going to back to assist Autism Canada in their research and support of people living with autism. It will be a great occasion for those in attendance, as many efforts have been taken by the Argonauts to accommodate those with special needs. Earplugs and sunglasses will be supplied to help reduce the chances of over-stimulation, and quiet places will be provided for those who may need to get away from the crowd.
From the very beginnings of Hippo Hug we have been believers in the use of a weighted blanket for autism spectrum disorders. As a company, we’ve introduced ourselves and our blankets to the autism community through fundraising and participating in events. In fact, we began our journey into the provision of quality weighted blankets as a non-medicinal approach to calming behaviours in autistic people, and have personally witnessed the positive change they make for our clients.
As an individual, Leslie Brooks, founder of Hippo Hug weighted blankets, began her full-time career working with children with autism at the Society for Treatment of Autism, holding several positions and gaining a wide knowledge of all degrees of autism and different interventions used in treatment. She has experience in behavioural intervention, speech language pathology, and occupational therapy. After becoming a mom, Brooks became a home therapist for high functioning school-age children with autism. It was while creating a program to aid a family in Calgary for their child’s sleep behaviours that Brooks mixed her sewing skills with her deep autism knowledge base, creating what would be Hippo Hug’s first product; a specialized sleep sack designed to offer deep pressure during sleep as well as preventing access to diapers.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Canada provides many resources for those who been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, which was first recognized as a medical condition in 1942. Autism spectrum disorder is an umbrella term encompassing the three top diagnoses, the most common being autistic disorder. Generally referred to as “classic autism” or “autism,” autistic disorder is a neurological and developmental disorder that usually reveals itself within the first three years of life. Those with classic autism view themselves differently than those of us referred to as neuro-typical, they view the world through a unique lens and approach social interactions in an individual way.
Asperger syndrome, or Asperger’s, is a previously used diagnosis on the autism spectrum. In 2013, it became part of one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5). Asperger syndrome tends to be identified later in life, generally after the age of three and into the teen and adult years. Those with Asperger syndrome can find social situations challenging to conform to typical social standards and might have difficulty making and keeping friends due to lack of openness from the outside community. They often feel most comfortable following set routines. Developmental delays are not usual for those with Asperger Syndrome; in fact, many display high levels of cognitive ability.
The third most common type of autism spectrum disorders is pervasive developmental disorder, which describes those who fall within the spectrum but do not reveal themselves as having classic autism or Asperger syndrome.
These screening tools may help detect autism spectrum disorders, however it is important to consult your family doctor, neurologist, psychologist or developmental pediatrician.
How a Weighted Blanket for Autism Can Provide Relief
Dr. Temple Grandin, PhD, who lives with autism spectrum disorder, was one of the first to point out the benefits of the deep-pressure touch provided by weighted blankets to help relax overstressed nervous systems. Grandin’s research actually lead to the development of the first weighted blankets.
A weighted blanket for autism spectrum disorders may assist in relieving symptoms by reducing agitation and providing the comfort we all crave. They allow users to calm themselves and feel more in control, which helps promote a sense of grounding. This will assist in improving moods in the moment and also facilitate a good night’s sleep so tomorrow will be an even better day.
Try a Weighted Animal, Too!
Hippo Hug weighted animals are perfect for those looking for a helpful snuggle. They provide gentle pressure to calm anxiety, and their cute appearance injects some extra joy and love into hard days. We are able to add weight to just about any plush type of animal you can think of, but in stock we have cats, dogs, hippos, sharks, dinosaurs, gorillas, lions, alligators, and, of course, bears. Weights range from 1.5 to 6 pounds.
How to Choose Your Weighted Blanket
The right size and weight of your custom-made blanket is essential to your receiving the most benefit you can from our product. We recommend contacting us to chat about your weighted blanket before purchasing so we can make sure we are providing you with exactly what you need. We’re happy to provide our advice and expertise, and will even lend you pre-made blankets to try before you design your own. Check out our gallery for examples of our work!