Weighted Blankets and Sleep Quality in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Single-Subject Design

Children (Basel). 2020 Dec 27;8(1):10. doi: 10.3390/children8010010.


The purpose of the study was to explore the efficacy of weighted blanket applications and sleep quality in children with autism spectrum disorder and behavioral manifestations of sensory processing deficits. Two 4-year-old participants diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder who also experienced sleep disturbances took part in a single-subject design study. Objective sleep measures and caregiver surveys were tracked for a baseline period of eight days, followed by a 14-day weighted blanket intervention and a seven-day withdrawal phase. Caregiver reports and objective data were evaluated using visual analysis and the percentage of non-overlapping data methods. The results suggest minimal changes in sleep patterns as a result of the weighted blanket intervention. The findings based on using a weighted blanket intervention were enhanced morning mood after night use and a significantly decreased time to fall asleep for participants, though they were not strong enough to recommend for clinical use. Future directions include single-subject and cohort-designed studies exploring the efficacy of weighted blankets with increasing sleep quality among children with autism.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; sensory-based interventions; weighted blankets.