Have you every wondered what it’s like to be autistic? Based on first-hand accounts of people with autism, it is a world in which all stimuli have the same volume as all others. It is a cacophony of sound and stimuli. This audio of a person with autism gives non-autistic people a good sense of what it is like to be living with autism.
Given the collision of sound and stimuli experienced by autistic people, you can imagine how helpful a calming device would be to them.
Ball blankets are weighted blankets which reportedly provide sensory stimulation and provide a calming effect. In one study, researchers found that the time it takes for a child with ADHD to fall asleep is shortened when using a ball blanket to the same time as healthy control subjects. In addition, teachers found improvement in both activity levels and attention span of approximately 10% after using the ball blankets. Blankets sold by retailers can be very expensive (many hundreds of dollars).
Our prototype blanket pictured below contains 99 balls and is suitable for a child weighing around 50 pounds.
Since 2014 we have collected over 10,000 balls to sew into 45 ball blankets!
Below are pictures of event participants showing off ball blankets we sewed at The Dana Hall School. A total of 45 blankets holding dead squash balls have been sewed during four sewing events and with the help of Framingham State University. Recipients of the blankets include – The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, Cooperative for Human Services, TILL- Toward Independent Living and Learning, Autism Alliance of Metrowest, The Walker School, Cardinal Cushing School, The Shared Living Collaborative, The Gifford School, The Higginson Lewis K-8 School, the John Silber Early Learning Center and individuals.
Below are some testimonials from recipients of blankets:
“We just gave one of the blankets to a family yesterday and they were so happy!! They are clean, soft and perfect weight for so many of the children with autism we see here at the Autism Alliance. We can’t thank SquashCares enough for their generosity and community outreach.”
Allison Daigle, Executive Co-Director, Autism Alliance of MetroWest
“The SquashCares sensory blankets can offer a sense of security and produce a calming effect for individuals with autism who have specific sensory needs. Thank you to SquashCares for their continued support of the autism community and for ‘helping families affected by autism live life to the fullest!'”
Lisa Collins, Director of Community Partnerships & Family Supports, Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism
If you know of a child who can benefit from a ball blanket, please reach out to us and we will put them on our list of recipients. Also if you have dead squash balls please think of SquashCares instead of throwing them into the trash. You can reach us email@example.com if you have balls to contribute.
If you want to sew your own blankets, please reach out to us and we can provide you with everything you need to do so (except the machines, thread and volunteers).