Linda and Jenny Zarogoza in their Homestead home with some of the weighted blankets have have been making for the Autism Academy. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

 

Jenny Zarogoza’s grandson has autism. Her sister Linda Zarogoza’s grandson was diagnosed with cancer as a baby.

The Homestead residents both understand the need for a child’s stress relief. That is the purpose of weighted blankets, which have trended upward recently after being used only as a therapy tool for many years.

What’s not stress-relieving about a weighted blanket is its cost, with prices usually ranging from $100 to $250.

The Zarogozas sew. A lot. Their Maricopa business, Mythical Gardens LLC, creates cosplay and steampunk outfits, but learning of the benefits of weighted blankets for children with autism, cancer and sleep disorders, they set their sewing skills on a new task.

They created a side interest, Mythical Children, to make weighted blankets for the students at the Autism Academy. Jenny’s grandson attends Chandler campus. There are four campuses in the Valley, each with around 200 students.

When Jenny offered to make weighted blankets for the school, administrators asked for only nine, not wanting to be a burden on the Zarogozas. Instead, they set a goal for 250.

“The beads for the weighted blankets are costly but well worth it for our children,” Jenny said. “My sister Linda is sewing up a storm and my daughter Mayling weighing all the beads out. This is a huge project and any help will be appreciated.”

They are asking for help in the form of funds (they have set up a GoFundMe.com account for the project), as well as donated blankets, fabric, thread, scissors, ribbon, quilt blocks and other necessities. That includes pellets, which are used as the weights while adding sensory texture to the blankets.

“We’re at a stand-still right now until we can get more pellets,” Jenny Zarogoza said. “Once we get more pellets, we’ve got like 60 blankets to finish up.”

Linda Zarogoza said they have also heard from therapists “who want to use them for the patients when they come in. If they just lay it on their laps, it will calm them down, so they can have a communication.”

While studies on the efficacy of weighted blankets have had mixed results, a 2014 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found children with autism favored the weighted blankets over other blankets. The weighted blankets are described by many in the field as feeling like a hug, giving a sense of security and reduction of anxiety.

Weighted blankets typically should be about 10 percent of the child’s weight. That weight, of course, changes as the child grows. Jenny Zarogoza said they are constructed as an insert that can be removed and more pellets added to increase the weight.

They have the measuring and sewing time down to two hours per blanket.

The sisters said any funds left over from the project will go directly to the children’s programs.

MythicalChildren@gmail.com 
Mythical Children c/o Mythical Garden
20987 N. John Wayne Parkway, B104-153
Maricopa AZ 85139

 

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