Group claims therapeutic weighted blanket for autism doesn’t wor - | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Group claims therapeutic weighted blanket for autism doesn’t work

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Weighted blankets, lap pads, swings or compression methods are just a few items in what's called sensory integration techniques that are often used in therapy for children with autism. But now a group of researchers claims none of it works.

Parents who swear by their success are outraged and at least one outspoken child with autism wants you to know he disagrees.

When 10-year-old Tyler Koschman says he needs his blanket. It's not just any blanket.

"It is usually placed around my shoulders like I have it now. Where I just sit there and it just puts me into a comfortable spot," Koschman said.

A spot where Koschman says he feels able to focus and do his work and avoid distractions.

"When I have something weighted on me it's just calming me down," he said.

Koschman is on the autism spectrum. He says the pressure from the weight isn't just calming, it helps him thrive and do well at school.

He visits this special needs classroom at his Central Texas school during recess or even test taking.

"Because I just like to have it wrapped around me and compressed like the hugging machine. But it's more like something that something that it's more like thousands of blankets on me or a giant squeeze machine," he said.

That's exactly what now Doctor Temple Grandin used all her life to cope with autism as shown in the award winning movie "Temple Grandin."

She says it worked. She is now an international success for how she changed the autism community and the cattle industry. And it's exactly why Beth Peacock went to work and launched her business mosaic weighted blankets.

"I'm a huge fan of her. I love the movie and it turned on a light for me that the squeeze machine and weighted blankets work much the same way like a tight hug," said Gina Peacock.

But a recent literature review published by the University of Texas professor and an international team of scientists say some of these popular therapies to treat autism lack scientific evidence and don't work.

Dr. Russell Lang was the lead researchers who studied 25 sensory integration technique studies.

"What we are saying is that the current evidence available through peer reviewed research doesn't show a consistently positive effect. In fact the majority of studies show no effect," said Dr. Lang.

Dr. Lang runs the Autism Center at Texas State University. He says the study was done to help parents not offend them.

"Our intent was to provide information," said Dr. Lang.

But it doesn't take away from his results.

"Every study that could be considered scientifically rigorous have shown there is no effect for those blankets," said Dr. Lang.

Koschman disagrees.

Fran Kennedy-Ellis of Autism Society of America says the organization itself doesn't endorse any one intervention but her son also uses one at school.

"We read books and then I put the blanket on him and lights out and he goes to sleep and we keep it on him for about 30 min till he's out," said Kennedy-Ellis.

"I say it's a really good idea," said Koschman.

Mosaic weighted blankets aren't just seeing a boost in orders for those who have autism. They are in big demand in many dentist offices to help patients deal with anxiety and in treatment centers for Alzheimer's.

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