Ball Blankets

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.

In a recent article on Inc.com, Melanie Curtin wrote about the scientific basis for weighted blankets. Melanie’s interesting article including the following evidence for the benefits of weighted blankets in reducing anxiety and assisting in sleep:

“One study found that 63% of participants reported weighted blankets as helping significantly reduce their levels of anxiety. Another demonstrated that those who used weighted blankets cited less anxiety than those who didn’t, and that clinicians agreed with their assessments.

Research also shows that weighted blankets help “ground” the body during sleep. This effect, also known as “earthing”, helps regulate your circadian rhythm, as well. One study showed that grounding not only helps reduce cortisol production (again, reducing stress), but also enhances the body’s natural, 24-hour circadian rhythms–especially in women. This led to higher-quality sleep in research participants, as well as reduced stress and pain.

Finally, because weighted blankets help make up for low levels of serotonin in the brain, they can be used to fight more than just anxiety–they can help with ADHD, depression, OCD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, Tourette’s, Alzheimer’s, cerebral palsy, Restless Leg Syndrome, and more (even menopausal symptoms).”

Weighted blankets typically cost hundreds of dollars. Our blankets are given to individuals and organizations servicing people who can benefit from weighted blankets.

Our prototype blanket pictured below contains 99 balls and is suitable for a child weighing around 50 pounds.

ball blanket

Since 2014 we have collected over 10,000 balls to sew into 45 ball blankets!

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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 Lurie Center for Autism at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, The Gifford School, The Higginson Lewis K-8 School, the John Silber Early Learning Center and individuals.

 

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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 person 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 sydney@squashcares.org 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).

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