We’re currently watching a movie with Luke. He earned it. Luke gets a sticker every time he stays in bed, from bedtime till wake time. Five stickers equals a Movie Night. With popcorn. Lately, he’s been doing pretty well. We’ve been watching a lot of movies.
Earlier in the year, it was not going so well. I don’t mind (too much) a kid waking me up, every now and then, in the middle of the night. I do mind a kid waking me up, yelling and panicking about something non-critical.
“Mom!!! Mom!!! The corner of my bed is not tucked in!”
“I forgot to tell you something at bedtime!!”
“I need a drink of water!!!!”
He’d grab my arm and start frantically shaking me. Being a good mom, I would completely freak out and start yelling back at him. (You’d start yelling too, if someone grabbed you while you were sleeping.) Sometimes, I would try to calm him down. Zach would help. Luke would have a massive panic attack, and even if you complied with whatever request he had, he would still go nuts. It would happen several times a night.
We tried a lot of different things, and nothing worked. We consulted the doctor and followed their advice. He still had panic attacks.
I decided to make him a weighted blanket. Weighted blankets have lots of good benefits for people with autism or other special issues like sensory disorders. The heavy weight has a calming effect, like swaddling a baby. I was hesitant to make one on faith, because the filling material is relatively expensive. Would it actually help him out? We had to try. He had been having awful panic attacks for several weeks.
Per my research, I involved Luke in the creation. We discussed the feel and color of the material. I ordered some weighted poly pellets. The blanket should weight 10% of his body weight plus 1 pound. He needed a 4 pound blanket. He wanted a chocolate brown and creamy white design.
We went to the fabric store and I steered him towards the nice, brown flannels. He fell in love with a Disney Tigger print and a John Deere tractor print on the way. It was awful. I said okay. We finalized the design: Tiggers and tractors on one side, and plain, silky blue on the other. Really awful.
I made the blanket. I’ve never made such an expensive, hideous blanket. After determining the correct size of the blanket, I calculated how to evenly spread 4 pounds of poly pellets. I sewed 8 columns and started weighing out half-ounce amounts.
Every time a set of columns was full, I sewed a row. It was a complete pain, and the blanket got heavier and heavier as more rows were filled. It was like making over one hundred bean bags, all stuck together.
I showed it to Luke the next day, and he tried it out that night.
Amazingly, it was worth it. Luke loves it. He calls it his “tiggers and tractors quilt”. He likes it on top of his other blankets, and sleeps through the night with zero panic attacks. It’s been about 5 months, so the data is good on that “zero”. I consider the blanket to be a miracle. If he does get up, it’s usually to go to the bathroom, and he goes right back to sleep. No anxiety or panicking.
He did get up the other night at 2am and ask me, in a nice whispering voice, to “fluff his pillow”. No sticker that night, but most nights he does earn a sticker.
Everyone sleeps better. And we get movie nights. With popcorn.