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      An Ottumwa mom is 'Sharing the Weight' of autism

      Two of Marci Prose's weighted blankets.
      Marci Prose started a non-profit group called Sharing the Weight in June of last year.

      "I started Sharing the weight just simply because our son David who has received an autism diagnosis and he had a hard time sleeping," she said. "He didn't sleep for 2.5 years of his life. He was up every 15 mins to an hour."

      When David turned two they got into therapy and 6 months later their occupational therapist gave them a weighted blanket to try.

      "And we tried it, first night he slept through the night for the first time in his life, and so we called this blanket the miracle blanket, and my mom figured out how to make these blankets," Prose said.

      Her goal initially was to make three because it was his third birthday, but at her first weekend doing this, she ended up making 12.

      "We said at that point we would continue to make them until we ran out of supplies, but 162 blankets later we still have supplies," she said.

      While the weighted blanket helps her son sleep, it doesn't work for every child with autism and other special needs. They typically run anywhere from $80 to $400 at retail price, but orders to Prose are given away completely free of cost, shipping included. The blankets range from three to ten pounds depending on the size of the child. The polypelets she uses allows the blanket to not only be weighted but be washable too.

      "It??s all through donations that we get for fabric, polypellets, thread, money for shipping or money for other supplies we need," she said.

      Other than being a mother of four, she says this is like a full time job, as she dedicates three to five hours a day to her work, and even more time on the weekends, turning a grieving process of an autism diagnosis into a positive thing.

      "So instead of getting consumed with all that, that's the reason why I started this blanket making, was because I wanted to focus my blanket making and my time and my mind on something I can help people with, not just letting myself sit there and grieve," Prose said.

      Right now this grassroots movement has over a hundred families nationally and internationally are on a wait list for a blanket, but Prose says she can luckily produce 30 to 40 blankets a month.

      The next blanket making party is May 24 at her home in Ottumwa. If you??d like to reach out to her, here is a link to the Sharing the Weight Facebook page.