Nov. 13, 2006

Weighted quilts offer comfort to those with special needs

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

Children and adults with sensory disorders such as autism, ADHD, ADD, and PDD-NOS can greatly benefit from deep pressure therapy, which is what weighted quilts provide, said Erin Judd of Howard Lake, who started Quilted Illusions Weighted Quilts.

“The pressure given by the weighted quilt causes the brain to release the same calming chemicals you get when you are held or hugged by someone, giving the person using the quilt a sense of security,” said Judd.

When the quilts are placed around peoples’ shoulders, or on their laps, Judd explained, “It takes away some of the sensory input, like loud noises.”

“It feels like you are being held, it’s very relaxing and calming. It’s hard for me to stay awake when I’m making them,” Judd laughed.

“They are used in schools (with children who have sensory sensitivities) to help lessen the commotion in the classroom. It helps them to focus on what they’re supposed to,” Judd said.

People who suffer from insomnia, Alzheimer’s, and a variety of anxiety disorders can also benefit from the weighted quilts, explained Judd.

“These type of quilts are hard to find,” Judd said.

The quilts are made from very soft materials, “I use the softest flannel fabrics for that special, snuggly feel,” said Judd.

The weighted aspect of the quilts come from small squares of “Polly Pellets,” that are “first sewn into the quilt top and then quilted into the quilt,” Judd said.

“I wash each quilt after I make it to make sure it will hold. Quilted Illusions Weighted Quilts are fully washable,” Judd explained.

“Since blue is proven to be a calming color, most of the flannels I have on hand are in the blue tones,” Judd said. “Other colors may be ordered, but may cost extra.”

The cost of the quilts ranges from about $200 to $275, depending upon size. “The weight of the quilt should be 10 percent of the person’s body weight, and the length should be from the shoulders to the feet,” Judd said.

Alternatives to the weighted quilts are weighted vests, especially for older children, and weighted lap/shoulder wraps.

A weighted, quilted vest ranges from $50 for a small child, to $70 for an extra-large child size.

The vest has the same basic purpose, but “allows for more mobility, and works good in a crowd, at school, or shopping,” Judd said.

A weighted lap/shoulder wrap costs $75. These offer a button on one end, and a loop on the other, so that the wrap can be secured around a person’s shoulders, explained Judd.

In addition to weighted items, Judd makes custom, long-arm quilts that are not weighted, fleece pull-over ponchos, bags, and other items.

Special orders are always welcome. Judd said, “I try to make things unique and personalized.”

Judd’s weighted quilts will be available at the Art Expo, Craft, and Collectible Fair, Saturday, Nov. 18, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., at the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School.

Also, in February, Judd will be offering a quilting class through community education in Howard Lake.

To place an order with Quilted Illusions Weighted Quilts, call (320) 543-3846.

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