Special-Needs Business Profile: DreamCatcher Weighted Blankets

Meet the Mom Behind the DreamCatcher Weighted Blankets Business

Cody Jackson with his blanket.


Eileen Jackson started DreamCatcher Weighted Blankets in 2004 with husband JC.

Business Description:

DreamCatcher "specializes in custom weighted products for those individuals that benefit from them," according to Jackson. Among the items offered are lap pads, lap blankets, wrap blankets, crib blankets, and blankets for twin-, full-, queen-, and king-size beds. Most are custom-made with fabrics and weights specified by the customer.

Parenting Connection:

Jackson's son Cody, who was 12 at the time of this interview in April 2006, was diagnosed with autism at age 3. "It totally changed our lives," she recalls, "but not necessarily in a bad way."

Time Investment:

Making blankets is a full-time job for Jackson. The best thing about the business, she says, is "being home with Cody." The hardest thing? "We work all the time."

Success Story:

"In talking with many therapists, medical professionals and experts in the sensory integration field, we have learned a great deal about how and why weighted products work the way they do," Jackson says. "The short version is that the pressure supplied by the weight in our products releases a chemical in the brain, which naturally calms. People who have benefited from our blankets include children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, ADD, PDD-NOS, and Sensory Integration Disorder."

Product Development:

As a parent, Jackson knew how important it was to have a blanket that could be washed easily, and wouldn't be ruined if it got wet.

Her search led her to tiny plastic pellets that could be quilted throughout a blanket. She works with customers to pick a fabric for the top of the blanket that the child will enjoy -- often a pattern with a calming blue background -- and backs it with soft flannel that is appealing to kids with sensory issues and also stays on a bed better than a smoother fabric.

Inspiration and Advice from Eileen Jackson:

What inspired you to start your business?

My then-9-year-old autistic son was not able to sleep without waking every few hours. We tried all types of "therapies" to help him sleep, short of using drugs. His occupational therapist recommended we try a weighted blanket. Since he started using a weighted blanket for sleep, he sleeps through most nights without waking. It was not only his therapy, but was also ours.

The weighted blankets I found in the special needs catalogs were extremely expensive, impractical and uncomfortable. Other blankets I found on the internet, purchased and tried were filled with unsafe or unsanitary weighting materials. Because of the lack of a quality product, I set out to make a weighted blanket for my son. He was my inspiration (as he always is) to try and then create several designs until landing on what is now our exclusive patent pending design.

How did you go about getting your business started?

Very slowly. At the request of a few occupational therapists, we made a few blankets for their clients. Word of mouth had us make a few more blankets and it has continued to grow (almost explode) as we are now making blankets on a full time basis.

What advice would you give to other parents about raising a child with special needs?

With so many "expert" opinions, the best thing to do is follow your gut.

More Business Profiles of Enterprising Parents

For more inspiring stories of parents of special needs children who identified a problem, strategized solutions, found something that worked, and went into business, be sure to check out More Enterprising Parents.

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