With an estimated 37.2 Million patients currently thought to have Asperger’s Syndrome worldwide, this developmental disease has been getting quite a bit of interest lately, though research into both the cause and the treatments for the disorder have remained spotty at best. That being said, those treatments that have been developed are often multidisciplinary and nontraditional in nature, such as SleepForce’s weighted blanket. Here, we’ll take a look at what Asperger’s is, what the current methods of treatment are, and how a weighted blanket can help with Asperger’s.
So first, What is Asperger’s?
Often seen as the “milder” form of autism, Asperger’s Syndrome is often considered part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder family, as well as a non-specified behavioral disorder. One of the key differences between Autism and Asperger’s is the fact that most Aspies (a term for individuals with Asperger’s) tend to have greater social intelligence and language abilities than those who are diagnosed with Autism. In fact, despite there being similar milestone developments as Autism and very similar symptoms in terms of developmental delay, most individuals with Asperger’s can lead lives with key life milestones intact.
This does not mean however that Asperger’s is somehow easier than autism, or better for that matter. Though not as withdrawn as their autistic counterparts, people with Asperger’s tend to have issues with social customs, eye contact, and communications, particularly in recognizing social cues and finding empathy for others. Other symptoms can often include a need for rigid patterns, irregular fixations (including repeating words or obsessions with certain sorts of items) , and even selective mutism, where they will not speak with certain people being around them. Unlike Autism, Asperger’s is marked typically with physical clumsiness, despite often greatly enhanced auditory and visual perception. Sometimes, a lack of dexterity or physical sensitivity to stimuli are also noted alongside these symptoms as well as a general tendency to have frequent patterns of waking up in the middle of the night, insomnia, and overall a lack of quality sleep.
As per causes of Asperger’s, no one clear pathological cause has been elucidated as the “one” cause of Asperger’s. Genetics are seen as a primary method by which one gets Asperger’s, but other factors such as environmental pollution and exposure to teratogens have also been seen to cause the disorder, though further research is needed on the topic. As per physiological mechanisms of the disorder, Asperger’s seems to appear to have some root within abnormal embryonic cell movements and connections during neurodevelopment in the first trimester, which causes a flip of prioritization of development where high level neural connections are very limited, while low level connections appears to be in excess.
When it comes to treatments, as stated earlier, Asperger’s is a bit limited in terms of options. While there are medications available for use, they tend to focus on one specific symptom or comorbidity. For example, an atypical antipsychotic like olanzapine may be prescribed to limit repetitive behaviors, especially those that may hurt the affected individual. To handle the disorder on the whole, therapies are often the main-line of treatment. These therapies are often a mix of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Positive Behavior Support, and Applied Behavioral Analysis, which each focus on separate mental or social aspects of life to help those with Asperger’s to learn the skills they need to live life to the fullest. Often alongside these therapies are accompanied by occupational or physical therapies, and more frequently, weighted blankets have been incorporated in this facet of treatment to help with sleep, stress, and stimulus issues.
How can a Weighted Blanket help with Asperger’s?
Weighted Blankets such as those offered by SleepForce can turn out to have many benefits for those dealing with Asperger’s. As stated earlier, these benefits can be sorted into those that can help with sleep problems, stress management, and issues with needing touch stimuli.
One of the most obvious uses for a weighted blanket can be the handling of insomnia, midnight awakenings and overall non-restful sleep. Due to the weight and warmth offered by a weighted blanket, people often report feelings similar to a deep tissue massage or being held in a warm embrace. This increases the release of serotonin, dopamine and melatonin, which work hand in hand to help soothe the individual and promote a deeper sleep state and thus a more restful night overall. As a matter of course, those who are better rested often can handle stressful situations better.
Regarding stress management, the weighted blanket can provide not only a good start to the day, but can be a great comforting tool. With the release of serotonin and dopamine, which are the neurotransmitters responsible for calming the body and being a “reward” chemical respectively, one can use these blankets as a coping mechanism for situations where habits are being broken or one needs to find a place to relax after trying to gain more coordination or social skills which can be emotionally exhausting. Due to the weight and size, weighted blankets can also help with nesting behavior which can be very self-soothing.
Lastly, sensory issues related to Asperger’s can be mitigated in a socially acceptable fashion by using a weighted blanket across one’s lap or over one’s shoulders. The constant touch feeling can help individuals focus better and be satisfied of their need to touch things, thus making the individual significantly calmer.
For those with Asperger’s, blankets such as those offered by SleepForce can be a great turning point for treatment outcomes. While certainly not a cure for the disorder, this tool can make handling day to day conditions significantly better. If you or your loved one may be interested in weighted blankets, we encourage you to look at our selection to see what may be the best match for your situation.