Tag Archives: autism

What is Neurodiversity? Why There’s No Such Thing as “Normal.”

If anything is clear right now, it’s that “we’re all in this together” (cue the music from High School Musical).

With most of the world being shut down due to the spread of COVID-19 and an understanding that the virus doesn’t discriminate based on gender, age, ability, education or income, many are realizing that we’re more alike than we are different.

photo of people holding each other s hands

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To that end, I read a fascinating article today about neurodiversity on Psychology Today. Do you know the term “neurodiversity“? I had heard it bandied about in relation to autism and Asperger’s which are diagnoses now widely pulled together under the general term “Autism spectrum.”

As is related in the Psychology Today article, neurodiversity is becoming a movement – with people advocating that many forms of brain “disorders” including epilepsy, Tourette’s Syndrome, ADHD, psychosis and others, are simply different ways of thinking and processing information – and they are not “abnormal” or “disordered.”

You probably know that someone with ADHD or a learning disability or dyslexia may process a question or a conversation or a math problem more slowly or differently than others. In the past (and even now), children and/or students may have been chastised or stigmatized or embarrassed by their inability to answer quickly or “the right way.”

But this old thinking may be flawed. We know that the brain can change and augment and develop and, like snowflakes, no two brains are the same. Therefore there isn’t necessarily a typical brain from which all human can be modeled. Just like there’s no “normal” body type.

In fact, many people with mental, emotional, and physical disabilities are now looking upon their diagnosis as a gift – as an opportunity to be creative and discover new ways of thinking or solutions to ongoing problems.

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This isn’t meant to candy-coat (dis)abilities and diagnoses and pretend everything is lollipops and rainbows. Parents of children with mental health diagnoses often face steep challenges every day.

But, with a better understanding of growth-mindset parenting and the inspirational movements of neurodiversity, kids and parents can feel better about their abilities and their future opportunities by embracing what was once brushed off as “different”, “wrong” or “weird.”

What do you think? Does the neurodiversity movement make you or your child feel empowered and hopeful?

Yours energetically,

Lisa

 

Weighing In on Weighted Blankets

girl sleeping on bed

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This post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase any of the items listed, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.

If you or your child deals with insomnia (*raises hand*) and/or sleep challenges due to autism, anxiety or depression, you may have considered investing in a “weighted blanket” to encourage better rest.

Whether or not you’ve tried one, you’ve most likely heard about weighted blankets as they are wildly popular right now. Here is an overview: weighted blankets are regular blankets or comforters filled with, well, weights! These can vary from plastic pellets to metal ball-bearings or chains to engineered heavy foam inserts. The general idea is that the firm pressure from the blanket feels heavy, snug and cozy – allowing people to fall asleep faster and sleep longer.

Proven Results?

Though the idea is meaningful and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence showing that weighted blankets promote better sleep, has it been scientifically proven? The results vary.

The results of a small 2015 study in Sweden can be found in Positive Effects of a Weighted Blanket on Insomnia. In this scientific study, people of varying ages with insomnia tried out and reported back on their quality of sleep using one particular weighted blanket.

Overall, the results from the study were positive: “…a chain weighted blanket was found to be effective at improving sleep quality in recognized insomniacs, both in parameters measured objectively and subjectively. The impact was more pronounced objectively when the participants reported having a positive experience of using the weighted blanket and if they used sleep medication. No adverse effects of using the weighted blanket were found.”

This is good news. However, I notice that the weighted blanket used by participants is produced by the same company that sponsored the study. This is both curious and worrying.

In another small 2014 New Zealand study, Effectiveness of Weighted Blankets as an Intervention for Sleep Problems in Children with Autism, the results were not as favorable. Unfortunately, in this study, “…Consistent with previous research, the current study did not find weighted blankets to be an effective aid in promoting sleep for children with autism.”

There are other studies of course. And, regardless of their results, it is not to say that a weighted blanket won’t work for you, your child or loved one. But, again, it appears that it is not a “one size fits all” solution.

Options, Options, Options

When it comes to weighted blankets, there are myriad options for weight, size, colour and style.

  • Weight-wise, it seems the most popular categories are: 10 pounds, 15 pounds or 20 pounds. Apparently, one should use a blanket that is 10% of your weight. So, if your child is 100 pounds, buy her a 10 lb. blanket.
  • The outer covering can be made from anything from polyester to satin to bamboo to cotton.
  • Styles/sizes seem to focus on queen or king-size but I am sure singles and doubles can be found.
  • There are myriad colours available but, again, generally I’ve seen mostly grey, brown, white, cream and taupe.

No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn!

I am keen to try one out. Unfortunately, my initial jubilation about purchasing such a blanket has abated.

You see, I had recently spotted an ad for a Canadian-made weighted blanket on a social media site (Instagram I believe) offering a special $15 discount. That was just the push I needed as I was considering buying one anyway. As you may know, they’re not cheap: Including the $15 discount and free shipping, with taxes it was still going to be $241 CAD. I was willing to pay that if the health benefits proved true.

However, sadly, it appears this particular company (I won’t name it at this point) is either unscrupulous, unusually busy or highly disorganized. Their initial estimated shipping time went from “end of January” to middle of February to, now, February 22. I ordered and paid for the blanket on January 15! So, um, no. Suffice it to say that I’ve now called my credit card company and asked them to cancel the payment and the order.

My Kingdom for a Good Night’s Sleep

Have you tried a weighted blanket with positive results or do you have a family member or friend pleased with their results?

If so, please comment or contact me to recommend a company (big or small) from which to buy one. I am still game to try out a weighted blanket. However, as outlined above, I had a negative initial purchasing experience and there are so many options to consider and factors involved.

Should I end up buying one, I promise to provide an update.

Lisa