In the last few months, if you were to look for Kay Brown, administrative support, or Diane Ude, accounting technician, after work or on the weekends you would most likely find them behind a sewing machine. They have been busily creating weighted blankets and animals for Youth Dynamics therapists and clinical staff to use with clients. Between the two of them they have made 10 weighted blankets or stuffed animals that have been sent to locations across Montana.

Where they got the idea?

Diane explains that her niece, a physical therapist, asked her to sew a therapy vest to use with stroke victims. In Diane’s research to find a pattern, patterns for weighted blankets kept coming up. Consequently, Diane and Angie Hildebrand, Clinical Supervisor, were talking and Diane asked Angie if she knew about weighted blankets. Angie expressed interest using them with clients and said she would try some at the Boulder Group Homes if Diane made some. Diane recruited Kay and they got to work using fabric they had lying around. “The plastic pellets are the most expensive part,” says Diane.

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Diane Ude (R) and Kay Brown (L) take a moment to cuddle their creations in the middle of a busy day.

Weighted blankets are beneficial for increasing dopamine and serotonin and alleviate symptoms of ADHD, anxiety, autism and insomnia. To understand how they work, go home and try to fall asleep with just a light sheet. Now try it with a heavier blanket or comforter. The weight of the heavy blanket or comforter will feel soothing and relaxing.  In therapeutic settings, they can be helpful for calming youth who do not have the ability to calm themselves.

Real Benefits to Weighted Blankets

Barb Connors from Glasgow, requested one of the first blankets for a child in her area. The child and child’s family had tried every intervention available to cope with the child’s autism. The child’s therapist, Joann Adney, reports that since receiving the blanket she has witnessed this child begin making strides in therapy.

One youth in the Boulder Group Homes enjoyed the weighted blankets so much that she kept trying to steal them. The staff realized how motivated she is to have her very own blanket. Through working with her to craft a blanket of her own they have helped her achieve her treatment goals.

Teresa Turville, Associate Clinical Director, recounts this story of another youth in Boulder:

She is a 14 year old girl who is full of spice and pizazz… [Who is also] a very strong, independent, and quirky girl who enjoys and looks forward to coming into my office for therapy each week. … She loves curling up in a chair, cozied up under one of these weighted blankets made by Kay. Under this blanket is where [she] has spent hours recounting her traumas, shedding hundreds of tears as she questions her experiences and those who have come and gone from her life, and giggling uncontrollably when she is reminded of her self-worth and bravery.

If you would like to help support Kay and Diane as they make blankets or any Youth Dynamics Services, please consider making a donation.