With claims that they help with sleep, anxiety and stress, the popularity of weighted blankets increased markedly in 2018. Now, local first responders are utilizing those same calming effects to help people on-scene who have autism or are in crisis.

Weighted blankets and vests have been used in occupational therapy for years to help children who have autism or similar disorders. Staying on task, staying seated and an increased attention span are some of the behaviors occupational therapists have noted when using weighted materials.

AutismĀ  training’s have given fire andĀ  police departments techniques for safely helping people with autism. Some of them include being aware of lights and noise from radios, as well as the use of weighted blankets.

The fire departments address weight concerns by carrying two smaller blankets that can be stacked for adults and bigger kids. First responders are also taught how to use substitutes like bunker coats, bulletproof vests and stacks of blankets in place of a weighted blanket.