Bryan Gee, PhD, OTD, OTR/L, BCP; Victoria Scharp, PhD, CCC-SLP; Amy Williams, BA
Purpose: The purpose of the single-subject study was to explore the possible relationship between weighted blanket applications and sleep quality in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and behavioral manifestations of sensory processing deficits.
Method: Two 4-year-old participants diagnosed with ASD 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 7 days followed by a 14-day weighted blanket intervention and a 7-day withdrawal phase.
Results: 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 because of the weighted blanket intervention. Findings included using a weighted blanket intervention enhanced morning mood after night use and a significantly decreased time to fall asleep for one participant.
Conclusion: The converging evidence from a small but growing literature base indicates that weighted blankets may not strongly influence sleep quality in some children with ASD and sensory processing deficits who demonstrate increased sleep disturbances. Future directions include studies replicating the single-subject design with increased participants and updated outcome measures.
Gee, B. M., Scharp, V., & Williams, A. (2021). Weighted Blankets and Sleep Quality in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Single-Subject Design. The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, 9(1), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.15453/2168-6408.1704