Yours truly wrote a book!

With OT, Cara Koscinski, I wrote a book on weighted blankets.  I used to have a weighted blanket company, so I am sharing all that I have learned.  It’s full of information from what conditions they help with, how to choose one, how neurology comes into play, and much more.

It’s available now for pre-sale on Amazon.

If you are not familiar with weighted blankets, they are a staple in the autism community for helping with sensory processing disorder (SPD) symptoms along with the stressors that occur in people with autism while trying to navigate a world that doesn’t make sense.

I discovered weighted blankets while I was getting sensory integration therapy at an occupational therapy (OT) clinic.  My OT put one on me and I felt like my muscles were melting into the floor.  I use it now for when I feel anxious and when I have trouble sleeping, though I use it almost every night.  I have a 34-pound queen size on my bed and a 15-pound weighted throw on my couch.

And yes, I highly recommend one, and I cover how to choose one in the book, which is important because a weighted blanket usually starts at $100 or more.  In the book, I also wrote about how you could possibly get one covered by medical insurance, especially for people on Medicaid.

Get your copy reserved.



Autism and Stress

by Eileen Parker


Autism and stress don’t go together.  Stress and anything don’t go together, but for my autistic mind, my reaction can seem unbearable.  I want to hide and rock.  I can start to feel sad, and I withdraw into one of my not-talking days.

I have been enduring a lot of stress, some short-term, some long term.  For long-term, I had a business, and it was very stressful because I never felt like I was caught up (and often I wasn’t), I was never off of work, and there were so many moving parts that I felt out of control.  I shut down the business for that reason and my health problems, and in noticing the difference now, good for my mental health.

Short term stressors can be a change in routine, too much in-person people contact (email is okay), or sudden noises.  I have found a job, so something new can be a stressor, and a new job is both positive stress (excited to try something new), and negative stress (trying something new that destroys my routine).  Since the job starts next week, I’m getting up early and getting ready for work to get used to the new morning routine.

I get stressed with doing something with  someone else on short notice without knowing in advance and mentally preparing for it.  It may seem odd that I regularly do things on the spur of the moment like writing this blog post, but they emanate from my own mind when I am engrossed in an activity.  When that activity gets interrupted, I feel stressed and sometimes angry.  I get confused and hesitant.

Now, what to do about it.

For going somewhere short notice that another person has instigated, I practice doing the short notice, but only if it’s to a place that I’m used to going, such as the grocery store.  Going short notice to the Halloween store to pick out a costume feels stressful because I haven’t thought about what costume I want ahead of time, and those places are bloody noisy so I experience a sensory assault to top it all off.

All the autism methods of relaxing that we hear about online are true.  I have a ball that I bounce repetitively, a hammock, and weights.  I will jump, power walk, walk on my toes, lift weights, and do stretching.  I have started meditating, which I have discovered is not as easy as it sounds because focusing on my breath and clearing my mind of thoughts is darned difficult, but I persevere on learning to do it.

And yes, I flap my hands when I feel overly stressed.

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I tried this and it actually worked! If you have autism, try it too.

N.B.: I am not a paid spokeswoman.  Besides, TED is a non-profit.

We with autism, children included, can feel bad about who we are.  We can interpret when someone doesn’t like us, doesn’t listen to us, or doesn’t associate with us.  Children can get repeatedly told to act like someone else other than who they are, such as in school.  Other kids can be mean.  Adults can be mean or in most cases, unwittingly say things that are rude.

Our bodies can close up around us, being small like we feel or from what we interpret from the world around us.

You are not small.

You are a big, “out there” person who has much to offer the world.  To do that, as talked about in the video, fake it ’til you make it.  In more concrete terms, change you body language, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel at first, and the body’s signals will change how you feel about yourself.  Your body language will open up, literally with your stance.

In the video, Amy Cuddy talks about how our hormones actually change as a result of your body stance to bring about a change in thinking or feeling.  I ran across this because I am working on a book about weighted blankets, which also brings about a change from being on the body, though for different purposes.

When you are feeling small, or if you notice your body language being small, do the two-minute “opening up the body” exercise. Your new body language will also be interpreted by people around us, usually for a big, good result.

It has been a great help for me.

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Autism, Change and Routines

by Eileen Parker


I can deal with change, but changing my routine is darned difficult.

Routines are healthy.  It’s when a routine turns into a rut, that the routines turn unhealthy mentally and physically.

Using the physically fit concept, good fitness requires cross-training, which is doing different types of exercise to turn your physical fitness up to the next level.

Mental cross-training is also important.  Get out and seek new experiences and ideas.  I really notice this when hubby and I go somewhere, whether it’s to the Walker Art Center, the Hennepin County Fair to watch a demo derby, or day-tripping doing antiquing.

Mental cross-training can also be easily achieved by talking with other people.  “Talking” is not quite accurate though.  If you want to gain new ideas or ways of looking at the world, don’t be the one who does all the talking. Save that for people you know who are super interested in the same passionate interest that you are.

I like to think of changes as chaos.  The chaos is new, not ordered, and not assimilated ideas and information.  Once you have the chaos, your mind in within your routine, can turn it into new order.

So, you are in essence creating stress by inserting these new things in your life.  Stress is not inherently bad.  Stress can be created even for things that are new and positive.  Once you start to feel “settled” into the changes, it becomes a new or adapted routine.

Non-autistic (neurotypical) people, need routines.  In this article the author writes, “Successful people have the discipline to stick to routines that enhance their creativity, lower their stress, and increase their energy. They engage in things such as daily exercise, steady sleep habits, prayer and meditation, and regular meals, even if they don’t feel like it.”

My hubby encourages me to get out of the house by taking a job or going for coffee with a potential friend.  But, I can only do so much, then I need to immerse myself in a solitary activity, or be around others saying very little.


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