Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Interview with Kristi Langslet, OTR/L Occupational Therapist/Designer

Weighted blankets are rapidly growing in popularity as more and more people realize how effective they are in helping almost anyone calm down and fall asleep.  

We invite you to join our interview with Kristi Langslet, OTR/L Occupational Therapist who has over 25 years of experience and specialized training in Sensory Integration.

SensoryEdge: What are weighted blankets?

Kristi: Weighted blankets are blankets that usually have pockets of weighting material sewn between two outer layers of material.  The blankets become heavy with the weighting materials and are used to help children and adults calm down and go to sleep.

SensoryEdge: Why have they become the necessary item for anyone who needs help calming down and help going to go to sleep?

Kristi: Occupational Therapists and Psychologists have understood from research as early as the 1950’s that the use of certain types of touch is necessary for normal development to happen and helpful to calm and soothe people.  As research continued in both fields it became clear using deep (gentle but firm) touch had a profound effect on the amount of calm and focus a person was able to experience.  Being and remaining calm is essential for higher thinking to happen.  The best thinking, learning and sleep happen only in a CALM state.  Calm is essential!

SensoryEdge: When should you use a weighted blanket?

Kristi: Weighted blankets can be used when children or adults have difficulty calming down for tasks, calming down for sleep or staying asleep.  Weighted blankets are also used to help soothe and calm for transitions, disruptions, or any time a person has a heightened level of stress.

SensoryEdge: Who should use a weighted blanket?

Kristi: Children and adults who have trouble calming down, falling asleep or staying asleep.  Weighted blankets are especially effective for people with diagnoses or disorders such as Autism (ASD), Asperger’s Syndrome, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSP), Restless Leg Syndrome and Depression.  Infants and children under approximately 22pounds should not use weighted blankets.  Wait until the child is older to try a weighted blanket.

SensoryEdge: How heavy should a weighted blanket be?

Kristi: There is widespread misunderstanding about how heavy weighted blankets should be to be effective.  The most recent research done by Tina Champagne, M.Ed, OTR/L found that blankets for adults should be 25-30 pounds.   

Ms. Champagne agrees that the most common recommendations of 10-% plus 1-2 pounds of body weight is too light to be effective.  Make sure when buying your weighted blanket that it is from a company that bases its blanket weights on current research and has direct experience with using weighted blankets. 

I am the designer at  Sommerfly™ and have worked as an Occupational Therapist for over 25 years.  Our blanket weights are based on the most current research and my years of experience and specialized training in Sensory Integration.

SensoryEdge: Where should weighted blankets be used?

Kristi: Weighted blankets are most often used in the home, at schools, at the dentist, during car and air travel, at the hair dressers and in office settings. The home is a natural place for weighted blankets to be used as that is usually where sleep happens.  Schools often use weighted blankets in the classrooms and in ‘Sensory Rooms’ to help students get calm or stay calm.    

Health care providers such as Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapists, Psychologist, Psychiatrists, Dentists and Physicians use weighted blankets to help their clients get calm or remain calm to get their important work done. Even getting haircuts can be very stressful for some children.  Using a weighted blanket can help them remain calm during this time.

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