Squeezed into Calm

I have heard multiple interviews with Temple Grandin, on NPR, over the years. When she talked about her cattle squeezing machine, I found it interesting on an intellectual plane. It never occurred to me that deep sustained pressure might help me. Mostly because I felt I had very little in common with Grandin; she has autism and I don’t. All I had at the time of listening to those interviews was a smattering of very weird personality quirks.

But when Sharon Heller suggested a weighted blanket in Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight, I immediately tried it. Why? Because on pages 74 and 75 of her book, Heller describes a character who is “mildly” sensory defensive. That passage described my symptoms to a tee. When I read the excerpt to my husband, he looked at me with astonishment. “That’s you!” he said.

I decided to test the weighted blanket theory the next time I felt overwhelmed.

Sure enough, like, an hour later, I figured out I was in bad shape. I knew this because my brain was running a continuous loop of some ancient argument with my brother that it had dredged out of the archives. This is usually a reliable sign that I need to retreat and regroup.

I lay on my bed and buried myself in a pile of my heaviest pillows. Within a few minutes the arguing in my head stopped. A profound sense of relaxation came over me. It felt like my whole body sighed.

I was convinced.

I set out immediately to acquire a weighted blanket.

They are expensive.

Not liking to part with my money is not, as far as anything I have read, related to sensory processing disorder. But it is a major motivating factor in my life. It stems from a particular vein of insanity that ran through my childhood. Who knows, I might write specifically about it in future posts.

I made a weighted blanket.

I used fifteen pounds of pinto beans and some remarkably soft, non-fiber-shedding material I choose from an overwhelming sensory array of cloth at my neighborhood fabric store.

My blanket had such a dramatic effect I was compelled to sew one for each of my sensational friends. No more pinto beans. I found a local manufacturer for (washable) plastic pellets. Each blanket has been an improvement on the last. I even made one for my niece and nephew for their birthdays. I believe anyone would want the relaxing pleasure of deep pressure that comes with a good hug or a little time spent nestled under a weighted blanket.

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