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Snuggledown: Sensory weighted blankets in children with autism

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Project Areas: A clinical trial of the effectiveness of sensory weighted blankets in children with autism.

Lead Researcher/s:

Professor Paul Gringras, Consultant in Paediatric Neurodisability, Evelina Children’s Hospital

Dr Lucy Wiggs, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Oxford Brookes University

Dr Barry Wright, Consultant Child Psychiatrist, Limes Trees Child and Family Unit, York

Other members of the team

Status: The project, which commenced in December 2009, completed in mid 2013.

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Additional information

Sleep disturbance is often cited as having the greatest impact on the wellbeing of children with autism, as well as on the welfare of their families. Weighted blankets are sometimes recommended for children with autism, to assist with calming and relaxation, as well as with sleep. Few studies have looked at the effect of weighted blankets on sleeping problems, and the small studies that have been done have shown that they may improve sleep in some people. It is therefore enormously valuable to conduct a clinical trial of the effectiveness of weighted blankets in children with autistic spectrum disorders who suffer from poor sleep, and this is the aim of the Snuggledown study.

One way to find out for certain if these blankets work is to compare how well children sleep with a heavy blanket, to how well they sleep with an identical, but less heavy, blanket. The order of blanket they use is randomly decided and this sort of study is known as a randomised crossover study.

Where did it take place?

This study took place at three participating centres; the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, Oxford Brookes University in Oxford and Lime Trees Child and Family Unit, York. Although we would have liked to reach as many people as we could, we were limited to the locations that were accessible to our research nurses.

Who was eligible?

We recruited 115 children with an autistic spectrum disorder and persistent sleep problems to this six week trial, 63 of whom provided usable data.

We were specifically looking for children

Research nurses visited the children either at home, school or at a local clinic.

Families who completed the six week study were able to keep the weighted blanket.

Can I see the information and consent forms?

Can I see the study protocol?

Information about study results:

The findings should be published in late 2013. We will make them available on Research Autism’s website as soon as possible after they become publicly available.

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Last Updated : 08/10/2013   Back to Top

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