Sensory integration is an innate neurobiological process and refers to the integration and interpretation of sensory stimulation from the environment by the brain. It is the sensory systems job to take in, process and form outcomes in response to our environment. Ideally it is designed to protect our bodies from danger, as the sensory system relies on ‘pre-programmed’ information and past experiences. However, individuals who experience an array of mental health disorders or medical conditions may experience difficulty accommodating, or getting used to, sights, sounds, touch, pressure, tastes and movement around them. In these cases, the sensory input is not integrated or organised appropriately in the brain and may produce varying degrees of problems in development, information processing and behaviour.
At Wildflower Holistic Services we are passionate and highly educated about the benefits and integration of sensory aids into peoples daily lives to support an increase of self regulatory abilities and calmness which in turn brings more balance and peace to both the individuals life and the lives of those around them.
Comfort Buddy Weighted Blankets
What is a weighted blanket and how is it useful?
If an individual experiences an overwhelmed sensory system or becomes stressed, hormones are released which cause a fight-or-flight reaction. It is during a stress response that a person may become upset quickly and act out with physical or verbal aggression. When someone is fearful for their own safety, its natural to escape the situation and complete whatever is necessary to gain a feeling of safety again. This is where a weighted blanket is extremely helpful.
Weighted blankets attempt to increase overall body regulation by providing input to pressure receptors in the tactile system. So, when we regulate the sensory system, the person generally feels more in control of their body, leading to feelings of calmness and safety, which allows them to move on to other activities and learn other skills which require focus and concentration.
Additionally, many individuals have reported that having a weighted blanket on feels like they are receiving a big hug. Research has shown that hugs release oxytocin. This hormone is known to act on the limbic system (the part of the brain that relates to emotions and motivation) in the brain. When oxytocin is released, humans experience increased feelings of calmness and relaxation, decreased anxiety, feelings of safety and security, and decreased levels of stress. This is the perfect solution for those individuals who may not enjoy a physical hug or is a great substitute when you may not be able to give an individual a physical hug.
Who Do They Benefit?
Research has indicated that weighted blankets can help individuals with a variety of conditions including:
- Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Developmental Trauma
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Insomnia or sleep difficulties
- Chronic Pain
- Restless legs syndrome
Short answer is almost everywhere! Weighted blankets are a great sensory tool that require minimal effort and can be used in a variety of places including but definitely not limited to:
- Pre-School and School Setting
- Therapeutic Settings
- Nursing Home
When Can You Use Them?
Where Can They Be Used?
Again, these aids are so wonderfully diverse and easy to implement that the possibilities are numerous and personal to your needs. Some great suggestions would be:
- To improve Sleep
- Assist in calming spaces
- Car, bus, train or plane trips
- Group time at preschool
- Table work at school
- Study time
- During therapy
- Playing computer and TV games
Given our deep belief in the power of sensory integrative therapies, we also provide individual and group offerings which incorporate many opportunities to explore the influence of sensory integration in your life.
Many of our programs incorporate sensory learning and awareness and we also offer art therapy and yoga therapy which are influenced greatly by your sensory system.