Monday, August 31, 2015

How to make your own weighted blanket (or not).

After taking my first two Sensory Integration Certification courses, I decided that I wanted to own a weighted blanket. They provide deep tactile input which has been shown to help auto-regulate the sensory systems, specially the tactile system. I made a quick search and found out that a 10 pound blanket ranged from $70-$100+, so I decided to make my own. After reading how “easy” it was to make and how you can do it all in just one day, I got the materials for about $40 and started the project.

 I ordered 10 pounds of weighted plastic beads on ebay for less than $30. 

 The beads looked something like this:

After that, I made a sack of the size I wanted my blanket to be. I made this a while ago and I don’t remember de actual measurements, I ended up making my blanket smaller than planned because it was taking too long and I wanted to finish already. 

This is how the original sack looked:

This bed is a little smaller than Full size. For making the sack I just folded the fabric and sew in the bottom and left side. 

Next you have to do some math. You have to decide the size of the squares you want in your blanket and calculate how many squares you need to cover the whole area. The bigger the squares the easier it would be to fill them with beads and to close them without the beads falling or spreading and making your machine needle crack when accidentally touching a bead (happened to me many many times). After you do your math, you have to sew all the vertical lines in the fabric like this (or maybe straighter).

I am not an avid sewer, and it was extremely difficult for me to make the lines straight. If you have sewing skills similar to mine, I recommend buying a fabric that already has a square design, or be more patient, measure carefully and draw the whole lines with a pencil before sewing. 

Next some more math! Depending on the amount of squares and beads, you have to calculate the amount of beads you have to put in each square to be able to have the desired weight on the blanket. The weight recommended per person is the 10% of their weight plus one. So if you are making a blanket for a kid that weighs 60 pounds, you will want to make a 7 pound blanket. 

I used an old gift wrap paper tube and a funnel to put the beads through the vertical lines that I had sewn:

After you finish each section, it's time to sew the first horizontal line. Before I started sewing I marked the corners to know where I should start for each horizontal line.

This was the hardest part for me. My squares where too full of beads and when I put them horizontally they spread all over the place, causing many broken needles. Also, it was very hard for me to maintain a straight line while sewing. Another problem here is that when you have many rows done, it becomes very uncomfortable to manage because of the added weight. 

I did this process 10 more times (It did NOT take me a day, more like weeks!). That's when I got tired, stopped the process and closed the blanket before I got to make all the squares that I had originally calculated. Be sure to left at the end enough space to bend your end and sew it nicely. 

So here is my final blanket:

It measures roughly 35 by 42 inches. Each square was supposed to measure about 4 by 4 inches, but you know, I decided to be creative in that aspect. It weights about 7 pounds. 

Even though other bloggers made it look so easy to make this blanket, it was very difficult for me. Besides the problem with the broken needles I also had a problem with spilled beads all over my floor and difficulties with measurements. It made me wish I had just spent the extra money and buy a commercial one. But, I wouldn't have this great post to share with you, so #NoRegrets. 

Have you done a weighted blanket before? Share any tips or experiences in the comment section!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

SIPT training


I know it has been a while since my last post. I have been reading a lot about things not directly related to OT and I guess I lost inspiration for the blog for a while. I have recently been learning about overall health from a functional medicine perspective. I came across with the topic after looking for information online about how to control Hashimoto's hypothyroidism naturally. I found the things I was reading very interesting and have gotten kind of obsessed with that. 

In other news, a couple of weeks ago I took another of the Sensory Integration Certification Program courses. Recently I remembered that I never talked about taking these courses on the blog. 

SIPT Test Kit

As you may already know, the Sensory Integration Certification Program consists of 4 courses (each one lasts 5 days). I started with the certification courses right after graduation on July 2014. After that, I took the 4th course in December 2014, and the 2nd course this July. This is the first time that this certification is being offered in Puerto Rico. 

I recommend every OT that works with children to take at least the first and last course (you can only take those two, but you will not be awarded a certification in sensory integration). The 2nd and 3rd course are about the SIPT which stands for "Sensory Integrarion and Praxis Test" by Jean Ayres. 

By my island's standards this test is extremely expensive. They told us in the course that OTs in the United States charge from $600-$1,500  for each evaluation that includes the SIPT. I understand the cost because only the test kit goes over a $1,000 and it takes a lot of time to learn, administer and interpret. Besides that, you have to pay for the four courses of the certification (about $750 each) in order to be able to administer it. As if that's not enough, you also have to pay about $300 for each 10 administrations to be able to calculate the results (which I find unfair). Also the shipping cost of the kit to Puerto Rico was almost $300 because they count it as "international shipping" and use UPS to send it here. 

The problem with this is that where I live, we usually charge for a standard OT evaluation between $120-$250.  Even though in Puerto Rico we use the same US dollar, and food and services are priced the same or higher than in the US, our salaries are much lower.  I'm not sure parents will be able to pay the real value of an evaluation that includes the SIPT. 

I decided to take the whole course even though I may never have an actual SIPT client to have the credentials and knowledge to be a better OT. For now, I need to practice all 17 subtests and administer the test to 3 typical children and 1 child with suspected sensory integration difficulties. I have to bring the results of the last child to the next course to learn how to interpret them. I'll let you guys know how that goes.