Volunteers sew weighted blankets for children with Autism

After learning dozens of southeast Missouri children are affected by autism, the Family and Community Education (FCE) group members of Cape Girardeau County decided to take action. They fired up their sewing machines and began making special blankets.

"This is just one of the causes we work for," said member Barbara Barks.

"Children with autism seem to have touch-points. When they have weight on those points, it makes them relax and calms them to focus on the problem at hand," said organizer JoAnn Hahs.

That's where the blankets they make helps. Once finished, the end product is a weighted blanket parents use to calm their children at bed or nap time.  Volunteers start by stripping the fabric used for stuffing. They divide it into one pound bags. This way, they can easily determine how much the blanket weighs in the end. With each snip of the scissors, these volunteers know they're long hours make a big impact.

"It makes you feel good. You're doing something visible. When you take these blankets and a person tells you for the first time, they're child slept all night because they had the weighted blanket and it comforted them," said Hahs.

"It's a passion for our group--helping where there's a need in the community," said Barks.

The volunteers made 21 blankets on this day. Over the last year, they've sewn 93 and used more than a thousand pounds of fabric. Before any blanket is complete, it comes with one very special label.

"Our label says 'love given by the pound' from Cape County FCE. It is love given by the pound!"

The volunteers hand-deliver the blankets to the Autism Center at Southeast Missouri State University.  They also make weighted lap pads and shoulder snakes.

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