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Moonpenny
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22 Jun 2012, 4:25 pm

I'm sorry if this topic has been discussed in depth before – I wasn't able to spot anything on quite the same subject.

I'm fairly newly diagnosed and have only just got to the stage of reading about proprioception issues. A lot of what I read had close relevance to me: as well as autistic I'm dyspraxic, and it seems probable that disordered proprioception might be at the root of the dyspraxia. I was also reading about the intense calming effects of weight or pressure applied to the muscles and joints of people with proprioception issues – hence the reason some autistic people use weighted blankets and so on.

I wanted to try this on myself, so two nights ago I dug out some old free weights and just sat watching TV with 15kg of lead resting on my thigh muscles for 20 minutes. The effects started within five minutes and were absolutely extraordinary. Not only did all my stress disappear, but so did quite a lot of my M.E. pain and all of the chronic, low-grade stomach ache I've had every waking moment since childhood. I felt as if I'd had a deep massage and done meditation all at the same time. During both evenings I did two short periods with the weights on my thighs, and both nights I had a quality of sleep I'd forgotten existed. It even carried over into the next day each time, I woke calm and refreshed instead of crabby and headachy.

To begin with I thought it was either some kind of aberration, or one of those things that's like a heroin high: you never get as good an experience again as the first time you ever take it.* But I'm now on my third evening of coming home from work totally stressed from social interaction, sensory overload and pressure of workload, and it's still working fantastically well. I wondered if other people who suffer a lot with autism-related stress have found this to be a big help? It's been a revelation to me – if anyone had tried to persuade me that sitting around with a pile of lead in my lap would remove all my feelings of stress and a good bit of my chronic pain, I'd have fallen over laughing!


*Apparently, anyway – I've never taken heroin but have often seen this written.



questor
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22 Jun 2012, 8:07 pm

Unlike many others here, I do not require weighted blankets, but do feel better if I do have a blanket on me. I will often leave the fan on just so I can use a blanket. If I am too hot I would not want to use the blanket, so leaving the fan on will sometimes cool things off enough to enable me to use a blanket. I have also noticed that I really like using my heavy comforter along with the blanket, due to the weight, but in warmer temps, I obviously am not going to use that.

Although I like having the weight of coverings on me when sleeping or relaxing, I don't react well to being physically restrained. That always made my childhood meltdowns worse.

Based on my own experience, I seem to have a milder form of this pressure trait than others, but do seem to have it.


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kirayng
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23 Jun 2012, 3:28 pm

I have dyspraxia too and I get bear hugs from my hubby that make me melt. :) I agree with finding what works, I have circulation issues too so have to be careful. I tend to sit on my legs (tucked up under me) to get the same effect as deep pressure.

Also like questor I try to keep the house cool enough to put a blanket on, I live in Maine so that's not too hard! :) As a child I always slept under a pile of blankets too.



Moonpenny
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23 Jun 2012, 4:05 pm

Yes, I have to have a blanket over me in bed too. Usually that's not a problem in the UK, but on the (thankfully) less than 20 nights a year when it's really really hot, I struggle to feel comfortable or settled without a blanket. I think weighted blankets might actually work for me, but they're sooo expensive that I think I'll try the gym weights on my thigh muscles before I go to bed first, and see if that will work even on my most stressed out days.

As Questor says, being physically restrained is an entirely different kettle of fish. In childhood, if anyone tried to restrain me, I would immediately go into full-out panic attack. Luckily I had a reasonably sensitive family, and although no-one had any I idea I was on the spectrum (and wouldn't have known what it meant even if someone had told them), they realised it made me panic and didn't tend to do it very often. I've never had an anger meltdown, and they didn't need to restrain me because I'd lost it and might put myself in danger – it was tears with me if anything.

The main difference for me between having weight on my body and being restrained is that with the weights or the piles of blankets there's no-one else involved. I'm in complete control and I don't have to worry about another person doing something unpredictable or that I don't like. I can't cope with being bear-hugged, lovely as everyone always says it feels – I just panic and immediately start trying to fight my way out of the situation! It's only happened to me a three or four times in my life, but it always ended embarrassingly, with me having reacted as if the person doing the hugging was trying to murder me or something... :oops: :lol:



CyborgUprising
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24 Jun 2012, 10:42 am

This was actually one of the factors that led to the diagnosis (combined with the stimming behaviors, lack of verbal communication as a child and avoidance behaviors). I have always found weight and pressure against my torso and sides to be of great comfort, but anything involving human contact/touch (hugs, massage) was utterly distressing and quite literally painful. In addition, carrying heavy objects in an unuasual manner also is pleasant in that I can feel how my muscles contract and better understand how to handle objects without destroying them.



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24 Jun 2012, 10:48 am

Moonpenny wrote:
Yes, I have to have a blanket over me in bed too. Usually that's not a problem in the UK, but on the (thankfully) less than 20 nights a year when it's really really hot, I struggle to feel comfortable or settled without a blanket. I think weighted blankets might actually work for me, but they're sooo expensive that I think I'll try the gym weights on my thigh muscles before I go to bed first, and see if that will work even on my most stressed out days.

As Questor says, being physically restrained is an entirely different kettle of fish. In childhood, if anyone tried to restrain me, I would immediately go into full-out panic attack. Luckily I had a reasonably sensitive family, and although no-one had any I idea I was on the spectrum (and wouldn't have known what it meant even if someone had told them), they realised it made me panic and didn't tend to do it very often. I've never had an anger meltdown, and they didn't need to restrain me because I'd lost it and might put myself in danger – it was tears with me if anything.

The main difference for me between having weight on my body and being restrained is that with the weights or the piles of blankets there's no-one else involved. I'm in complete control and I don't have to worry about another person doing something unpredictable or that I don't like. I can't cope with being bear-hugged, lovely as everyone always says it feels – I just panic and immediately start trying to fight my way out of the situation! It's only happened to me a three or four times in my life, but it always ended embarrassingly, with me having reacted as if the person doing the hugging was trying to murder me or something... :oops: :lol:


I certainly agree about being in complete control and not having the threatening feeling of human contact. I was actually made to attend counseling because my avoidance of hugs or being touched (I would duck out of the way if a teacher was going to put their hand on my shoulder) made them think I was abused :oops: Like I have mentioned elsewhere, I wear body armor (bulletproof vest or a flak vest) for the weight and tightness on my torso. I found mine for cheaper than any of the "specialty items" for those on the Spectrum (and it's far more effective for me: I've nearly tried it all).



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24 Jun 2012, 11:04 am

Moonpenny wrote:
Yes, I have to have a blanket over me in bed too. Usually that's not a problem in the UK, but on the (thankfully) less than 20 nights a year when it's really really hot, I struggle to feel comfortable or settled without a blanket. I think weighted blankets might actually work for me, but they're sooo expensive that I think I'll try the gym weights on my thigh muscles before I go to bed first, and see if that will work even on my most stressed out days.


Tuttle has talked about making her own weighted blanket, which I believe has worked out fairly well for her.



izzeme
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24 Jun 2012, 12:54 pm

i also enjoy the feel of light pressure on my body; i sleep under a thick blanket untill deep summer, taking the sweating of overheating as some kind of worthy price to pay.
also, the only alternative is no blanket at all, since i hate thin summer blankets.

also, if i'm getting stressed, i wear an old sweater that's currently about 1.5 sizes too small, giving me weight and a hug-like pressure, this comforts me greatly...



Moonpenny
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24 Jun 2012, 1:06 pm

Thanks for the tip about Tuttle's blanket, Verdandi, I'll search for the topic. Mind you, it'd be just like me to buy all the equipment and then never actually get round to the difficult job of sewing it together!

I too wear something tight: not a flak jacket or a tight jumper, but a big 1960s style belt. I have a drawer full of them, and wear them fairly tight round my waist with every dress or skirt. I never knew why, of course, before my very late diagnosis, but I always wore belts – I didn't even realise it was because it's comforting.



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24 Jun 2012, 1:55 pm

After reading about weighted blankets, I made a small but heavy weighted blanket for myself -- the goal was to get the needed weight with as little warmth as possible. it's 36" x 42", and will weigh nearly 20lbs when completed. I sewed up the sides and then at 6" intervals, then started adding approx 6.85 oz to each using a less than accurate scale, so each pocket is just under 7 oz.

After completing 4 of the 6 rows, I took it to bed, and have been using it as is ever since. As soon as I pull it over me, I just melt into the bed. After the first night, I feared it may be too heavy because I woke up aching all over, but I now believe that I just slept that soundly.


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24 Jun 2012, 2:07 pm

I don't actually remember if I started a thread for making weighted blankets, but I can.

The basic plan is like what CuriousKitten mentions. If you use sheets for sides that hold weights in you can save money there. Then order polypellets off of ebay (so much better prices than elsewhere).

My research has suggested that 4"x4" square pockets were optimal. I put 34 grams in each pocket, and ended up with an almost 25 lb queen sized blanket.



CuriousKitten
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24 Jun 2012, 4:09 pm

yes, 4" squares would likely be better, but would take much longer to complete.

Since I have a problem with finishing projects, and desperately needed the sleep, I went with 6" as is commonly done. 4" may be optimal (idk), but 6" works well enough.

The weighted pellets were the expensive part -- with shipping they were about $75 for 25lbs


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24 Jun 2012, 4:15 pm

CuriousKitten wrote:
The weighted pellets were the expensive part -- with shipping they were about $75 for 25lbs


Polypellets? I got mine for about $60 for 30 lbs.



CuriousKitten
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24 Jun 2012, 4:25 pm

Tuttle wrote:
CuriousKitten wrote:
The weighted pellets were the expensive part -- with shipping they were about $75 for 25lbs


Polypellets? I got mine for about $60 for 30 lbs.


I got mine from craftpellets.com. They charge 49.99 for 25lbs, but shipping to SC was a killer. There are no local places that sell the pellets. There is a discount for multiple boxes, and of course shipping would be combined, so a larger amount would be less per pound of pellets.


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Moonpenny
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24 Jun 2012, 4:36 pm

Thank you for the ideas. As I always lie on my side, I think I might start with a bedsheet with a strip – say about 15" wide – of pockets sewn onto the back of it, to go down the length of my body. I'm in the menopause and have drenching hot sweats during the night, so having the sides free of thickness would help keep me a bit cooler. I might find the strip slips out of place, but at least if I find it does, I can make it progressively wider until it stays put. I'm not sure it will slip too badly, actually – it only has to stay in place for 20 - 30 minutes, after all. I too have a big problem with finishing projects, so I want to start with the easiest option and only do more work if I have to! :roll:



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24 Jun 2012, 4:50 pm

CuriousKitten wrote:
Tuttle wrote:
CuriousKitten wrote:
The weighted pellets were the expensive part -- with shipping they were about $75 for 25lbs


Polypellets? I got mine for about $60 for 30 lbs.


I got mine from craftpellets.com. They charge 49.99 for 25lbs, but shipping to SC was a killer. There are no local places that sell the pellets. There is a discount for multiple boxes, and of course shipping would be combined, so a larger amount would be less per pound of pellets.


I used ebay. Two boxes of 15 lbs, each $30 including shipping.

Moonpenny wrote:
Thank you for the ideas. As I always lie on my side, I think I might start with a bedsheet with a strip – say about 15" wide – of pockets sewn onto the back of it, to go down the length of my body. I'm in the menopause and have drenching hot sweats during the night, so having the sides free of thickness would help keep me a bit cooler. I might find the strip slips out of place, but at least if I find it does, I can make it progressively wider until it stays put. I'm not sure it will slip too badly, actually – it only has to stay in place for 20 - 30 minutes, after all. I too have a big problem with finishing projects, so I want to start with the easiest option and only do more work if I have to! :roll:


The base method i used to make my blanket was to take two sheets, sew them together in a giant pillow-case like shape, and then sew lines up it every 4". I then could fill each of those columns with the proper amount, push it down into where I wanted that pocket to be, and then sew horizontally. That gives one line of pockets. Repeat this over and over, and then it's done. This way its not pockets bulging out on one side, but instead evenly filled ones.

I'm not sure how your idea would work. I'd be worried about it feeling too uneven. The even pressure is quite nice for me. Using sheets however is actually quite cool just to start with.

However, generally playing with old, but not warn out, bedsheets works well and is not too expensive. If something fails terribly, you can always cut the pellets out as they're the main expense. :)