Children with sensory integration dysfunction can benefit greatly from having a handmade weighted crochet blanket to wrap themselves up in.
What is Sensory Integration Dysfunction?
Sensory integration dysfunction (SID), which is also called Sensory Processing Disorder, is a condition that affects an individual’s ability to process sensory information. The person may be extremely sensitive to external stimuli (or in the reverse case, may be under-affected). So a child may hear a regular sounding noise and be completely overwhelmed by it because it’s too much for them … or a child may be exposed to extreme heat to the point of burning their skin and not realized it because the brain doesn’t process that pain.
Sensory Integration Dysfunction may be a disorder on its own. It may also be on symptom or complication of another disorder, including autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia and various learning disorders. All of the senses may be affected or just one sense may be affected. The SPD Foundation explains, “motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively.”
I wasn’t familiar with the specific name of the condition until recently but I have met children who may have had the condition. I used to work in group home settings with many children who had various behavioral issues and I would not be surprised to learn that some of them had undiagnosed SID. What actually brought my attention to the condition and caused me to want to learn more about it now was a post a couple of months back over on Harvest Moon By Hand where Ann shares the story of mothering a child with SID. It provides a lot of information about the condition and what it means for one family and I’d encourage you to pop over and read that.
How a Weighted Blanket Helps
There are many different symptoms of this condition. There are many different treatment options. What does a weighted blanket have to do with this? Well, as Ann explains in the aforementioned post, “One of the most effective ways for calming is laying down under multiple layers of blankets in a dark or semi-dark room.” This is very calming. Weighted blankets are commonly used as one part of a soothing, comforting “safe space” or ritual for calming down.
From another website I learned that there are three main goals of the weighted blanket:
1. To improve body awareness
2. To calm and improve attention and focus
3. To decrease sensory seeking behaviors
The weighted blanket, useful for children struggling with SID/ SPD, can also be useful for children who are dealing with other issues of anxiety, fear, hyperactivity, etc. for the same reasons that the blankets benefit the child with sensory issues. And it’s not just for kids. Adults suffering from those problems or conditions including Restless Leg Syndrome and cerebral palsy are also good candidates for benefitting from a weighted blanket.
Weighted Crochet Blanket Patterns
There aren’t too many weighted crochet blanket patterns available as far as I can tell. There are, however, lots of DIY projects for people who sew and it seems like the basic thing is to get packets of polyfill that can be put into bags and then the fabric for the blanket sewn around those bags. It seems like you could take a basic crochet square pattern, even a granny square although preferably a more closed stitch, and crochet fabric squares to go around the bags of poly pellets, which you then join into the full blanket. eHow offers instructions for doing this with a knitted blanket that could be altered to use crochet squares. An alternative to poly pellets is to use flannel as a filler. And another option would be to take any crochet blanket pattern that you like and work it using multiple strands of yarn instead of a single strand, probably with a larger-than-called-for hook. Does that sound right to you guys?
The few weighted crochet blanket patterns available that I was able to locate:
Fabric Backed Yarn Eater Blanket. There is a free tutorial for this blanket from Everything Your Mama Made and More who says, “the yarn eater blanket is heavy… a great option as a sensory or weighted blanket”.
Lili’s Hug. This is a sewing pattern for a fabric-based weighted blanket approved for donation to Project Linus. If you are someone who works with both fabric and crochet then you could easily add a crochet edging around this blanket.
Similarly you could add crochet edging to a fleece blanket. I’ve seen conflicting reports online about whether or not the fleece blanket is heavy enough to work as a weighted blanket. You could try it or maybe try a few of them layered on top of each other on the child. The one pictured here was from Linda Permann’s class on Craftsy.
The hexapuff lap quilt by Julie Blagojevich is designed for each motif in the quilt to be stuffed so it’s heavier than a regular crochet blanket. The pattern calls for fingering yarn but using a heavier yarn to create bigger motifs and just making fewer of them to get the right side of the blanket may be a good compromise for a heavier blanket.
This is a vintage crochet rug pattern but it’s the right size, and likely a good weight, for a project like this one.
Additional Tips for Making a Heavy Crochet Blanket
In researching this article I turned to my friends on the social networks to ask for ideas on making heavy crochet blankets. Here were some of the great suggestions:
- Use a basketweave pattern. “Front and back post double crochet is very thick.” – @FreshStitches
- “Mom made me a granny square bedspread with double strand Red Heart SS. It’s so heavy it gives me toe cramps!” – @SedaDesignStudio
- Take any pattern and work it with multiple strands and a larger hook. – @crochetkim
- Make a weighted blanket and then sew a crocheted blanket on as the top layer. – @snugglebunz1
- @GoCrochet has a great pattern for a super beautiful blanket called Triangles Afghan that is also the heaviest/ densest she’s ever made.
Do you know of another weighted crochet blanket pattern? Please add to this resource list by including it in the comments below!