Kocoono Weighted Blanket would not exist right now if it weren't for a lovely young child with Autism who inspired this business as a whole. We dedicate this blog to the Autism community and all the parents contacting us from Ireland and the UK to seek advice to get the perfect sensory weighted Blanket for their autistic children.
Emer Flannery, founder of Kocoono got familiarised with the concept of Deep Pressure Therapy for the first time in 2011 when working in an ABA school as a behaviour therapist with a child with Autism. The little boy's mum advised how the child benefited from the gentle pressure and made him feel calm.
“What is Deep Pressure Therapy?” You may ask. It sounds like a scientific and complicated term but in fact it is much simpler than it sounds and without knowing it you experience pressure and a taste of pressure therapy every day! Deep Pressure Therapy or Stimulation is firm but gentle pressure applied to the body that relaxes the Nervous system. We receive this pressure stimulation in our day to day lives when we have a hug, a massage, a hand squeeze or when our pet sits on our lap for example. This is the same concept that the Weighted Blankets and other weighted products are designed to provide this pressure. Find out the science behind Pressure Therapy and how this can calm anxiety and your Nervous System here.
"I used to use deep pressure by massaging his head, body squeezing or pressuring his hands. That calmed him, so I wondered if it would be better if he could self-soothe in a safe way with his own deep touch pressure product. " Emer says. So, it was then, when she found out about weighted blankets, also known as “sensory blankets” in the Autism community and how they could provide this self pressure stimulation.
Emer grew up knowing how to sew thanks to the influence of her mum who is a dressmaker, so she set about sourcing the materials to make a weighted lap blanket for this child, light and small enough to be used in School to relax him in the chair and help him to stay focused. Years later, she herself suffered a bout of sleep deprivation, while working in the homeless services sector going from day shifts to night shifts and dealing with the impact that shift work has on your sleep and circadian rhythm. So, she made the first Kocoono Weighted Blanket product for personal use and found out that pressure Therapy was not just beneficial for persons on the Autism Spectrum but also to combat any sleep disorders and reduce stress and anxiety.
Benefits of a Kocoono Weighted Blanket on Autism
Many children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) struggle with a sensory processing disorder, having difficulties processing information that they receive through their senses. This means that for some of them the senses are extremely heightened: sounds can be extremely loud, the light extremely bright or they are extremely aware of the tactile input of some fabrics. On the other extreme, some could not notice and process information received from the senses and they seek extra sensory input.
" The child with Autism I used to work with, for example, pushed his head against the sofa or put things on top of him or would ask for “squeezes”. He was clearly seeking pressure therapy from the environment” Emer says.
The pressure of Kocoono Weighted Blankets can provide great sensory input, and it helps children with sensory processing disorders to develop body awareness. The fabric of the Weighted Blanket is also an important source of sensory stimulation. People on the Autism and Asperger Spectrum are very tactile. We find that the Minky fabric of the Kocoono Weighted Blanket is very comforting for them, and they find the fabric very soft and soothing to touch.
In fact, we all have varying sensory needs and the Kocoono is very comforting in many situations. We had some customers that have shared their experience using Kocoono when they have sensory overload as Cliona who states: “As well as helping me sleep, it’s so fantastic for when I get sensory overload. It’s one of my favourite things, I’m using it right now!”
Many children with an autism spectrum disorder struggle with sensory processing disorders, having difficulties processing information that they receive through their senses. This means that for some of them the senses are extremely heightened: sounds can be extremely loud, the light extremely bright or they are extremely aware of the tactile input of some fabrics. On the other extreme, some could not notice and process information received from the senses and they seek extra sensory input.
" The child with Autism I used to work with, for example, pushed his head against the sofa or put things on top of him. He was clearly seeking pressure therapy from the environment” Emer Flannery
"As well as helping me sleep, it’s so fantastic for when I get sensory overload. It’s one of my favourite things, I’m using it right now! ”
Sleep difficulties are the main reason that lead parents with autistic children from Ireland and the UK to contact us seeking advice to buy the best Kocoono Weighted Blanket for their children. As we explained above, many children with an autism spectrum disorder struggle with sensory processing disorder,and that can create anxiety and problems sleeping.
There are a few ways that Kocoono Weighted Blankets can help improve sleep for children with autism.
- The Deep Touch Pressure Therapy provided by the weight of Kocoono Weighted Blankets can help them to relieve the anxiety, calming down their nervous system and making them feel embraced.
- Kids with autism often have low levels of serotonin and in turn, tend to produce less melatonin, which are vital chemicals for having a steady mood and regulating the sleep-wake cycle. By providing deep pressure therapy, Kocoono Weighted blankets help to reduce cortisol levels associated with stress, and in turn, naturally, release serotonin in the body. In this way, the melatonin levels are more steady and help the children to fall asleep faster and deeper.
- Additionally, the weight of a Kocoono ™ Blanket encourages stillness that can reduce tossing and turning when trying to get to sleep.
Siobhȧn is one of many of our customers who bought a Kocoono Weighted Blanket to help her child sleep.
“ The blanket arrived in days and my little ASD girl - age 9 - has slept better than she has in all her years. It calms her anxiety & relaxes her limbs. The colours are beautiful & the fabric is comforting, soft and both cool/warm depending on the side you choose to pull over you. This product has made a significant difference in our lives & especially my daughters life”
It helps to get focused
By improving the sleep quality, and calming the anxiety of your child you will be helping them to perform better at School.
A Study of Occupational therapists’ published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy shows how Pressure Therapy increases on-task behavior during fine motor activities, like scribbling, colouring, drawing, and writing.
Emer Flannery made her first weighted product for this purpose when she worked as a behaviour therapist with a child with Autism “He got distracted in School, so I made a small lap pad that he could bring with him. By activating the sense of touch, the weighted lap blanket kept him from becoming distracted by other sensory stimulations, such as sounds. This helped him to stay in his seat and keep focused on his tasks for longer”
The pressure therapy on the lap can help the children to go from one activity to another and help them concentrate on the task at hand. Weighted Lap pads are ideal for children to use during mealtimes, learning activities, or help them to deal with activities that irritate them such as cutting nails or hair-cuts among others.
Kocoono will be producing the Weighted Lap pad due to growing demand (you can register your interest in this new product launch by signing up to our newsletter or popping us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org), but at the moment Kocoono Weighted Blanket and also the Kocoono Shoulder Hug are being used as tools to help children to concentrate. With the Kocoono Weighted Blanket LUXE, we recommend the parents that want to use it for this purpose, to pull off the required removable inner weighted bands to make the blanket light enough, and place it over the lap of the child.
Not just children, but also adults benefited a lot from this pressure while working from home and needing to focus on a task. We found that our Kocoono Shoulder Hug is very versatile, and even though it is designed to relieve the tension on the shoulder area, many people use it on the lap to get focused while working at the desk. It weighs 1.5 kg and it is ideal to use it while sitting down. We use it every time we write our Wellness Blog. It really helps to keep you focused on the task at hand!
What is the best Kocoono Weighted Blanket for children with Autism?
1) Weight Selection
The Kocoono Weighted Blanket LUXE is suitable for children as it is our customisable version. This means that the parents can remove the inner weighted bands and amend the weight accordingly to suit the 10% of the childs' body weight. We recommend starting with the 5kg weighted blanket since this is our lightest weight and, from there, adjust the weight.
How can I adjust the weight to my child?
The 5kg Kocoono Weighted Blankets are recommended for someone who is between 50kg - 70 kg. If your child weighs only 25kg (4 stone) you would remove approx half of the inner weighted bands. The best way to do this is to remove the weighted bands in the lower half of the blanket.
The 10 inner weighted bands in the Kocoono LUXE blanket have the same weight distributed across the 6 pockets sewn into each channel, so you will need to remove the required amount of weighted bands to suit the child (considering that each inner weighted band weighs approx 0.5 kg and you need to get to 10% of the child´s body weight)
Then, you can add the weighted bands as the child grows. This is more environmentally and cost friendly than needing to purchase a new blanket at each growth spurt.
2) A unique cut out design that will cocoon your child into a deep sleep
Kocoono Weighted Blanket LUXE has a curved neck that fits smoothly over the shoulders and moves with your child. They won't need to cover themselves with the Weighted Blanket. If they turn to the side Kocoono Luxe turns with them and cocoons them all over. Additionally, the integrated shoulder embrace in the Kocoono LUXE allows the deep touch pressure to come up around their shoulder area and the gentle weight over the shoulders imitates the feeling of someone hugging you. Children love this because they feel embraced and safe! The Integrated Shoulder Embrace is at the same time, customisable, so in case your child feels overwhelmed by the pressure on the shoulder area, you can remove the inner weighted bands allocated there. This is the best part of Kocoono LUXE: that you can suit the pressure on different areas meeting your child’s sensory needs.
3) Fabric selection: A minky soft fabric available
It is not just the pressure of Kocoono ™ Weighted Blankets that can provide great sensory input for children with sensory processing difficulties but also the fabric is an important source of sensory input. People on the Autism Spectrum are very tactile. We find that the Minky side of the Kocoono™ Weighted Blanket is very comforting for them, and they feel the fabric very soft and soothing to touch.
The other side of the Weighted Blanket is 100% cotton which is extra-breathable, respectful to sensitive skins and regulates the body temperature of the body.
Give us your feedback or contact us for additional information
We are immensely grateful to Adam , who inspired Kocoono. We have shared in this blog all our experiences dealing with parents of children on the Autism Spectrum that seek our advice and Emer’s knowledge as a behaviour Therapist. We hope this has helped you to understand how Kocoono Weighted Blankets can help your children and guide you on choosing the right option for them. If you have any comments or feedback, please let us know in the comment section below.
We ship to Ireland and the UK from our Warehouses in Galway and Northern Ireland in only a matter of days, and be sure to pop into the chatbot if you have any further questions or pop us an email to email@example.com. We will be happy to answer any little question you might have.