Have you ever met a child who enjoys sitting still? Unless he/she is engaged in a momentary freeze game - kids are active beings and are constantly on the move... as they should be!
However, there are times when demands are increased necessitating children being asked to remain in a seated position (meal times and school days). This can be especially difficult for some children-especially those who crave extra movement and input. So how can we combine sitting and movement? WIGGLE SEATS! Wiggle seat cushions provide children input through movement while seated in a discrete yet highly beneficial fashion. There are lots of options from which to choose-so let’s get learning while we wiggle.
*One important thing to keep in mind when it comes to sitting is the 90-90-90 rule: Keep your hips, knees and ankles bent to 90 degrees. This means feet are flat on the floor!
Therapy Ball: Yes, a simple therapy ball (often referred to as a yoga or exercise ball). These balls come in many different sizes, enabling you to individualize it for your child. Another option with these balls is to use a stand/base (these come with or without wheels) so that the ball does not move as much. There are many benefits to these therapy ball wiggle seats. They provide a great amount of (proprioceptive) input. They also work on core strengthening, balance and positioning. Kids can move in all directions and typically love these wiggle seats.
Bean Bag: Beanbag seats provide a calming input as they contour to the child's whole body. Again there are all different sizes, but here I suggest going larger. These seats provide the child with a sense of support and security, which is especially calming for children with sensory deficits or Autism. The proprioceptive input also provides a rich sense of body awareness (knowing where your body is in space). These are readily portable, can be carried from room to room at home or thrown in piles in the classroom.
T-Stool: T-stool wiggle seats are another option, but can be challenging - which is why I especially love them. The ability to find that center point of gravity where one's body is perfectly balanced can be tricky for some children. Once a child is comfortable on a T-Stool he/she reap the wonderful benefits. These seats help with improved balance, core strength, coordination and self-regulation. They help children decrease their need to fidget and as a result improved focus and attention are obtained. Many of our children sit slouched over (with what is called a posterior pelvic tilt). The position while seated on a T-stool facilitates ergonomically improved posture (upright elongated spine and 90-90-90 of the hips, knees and ankles).
Wedge Seat: These sensory seat cushions are super comfortable and fun to sit on. They typically have one smooth side and one textured side (bumpy). They allow for small movements while seated typically in the anterior/posterior (front to back) plane. A favorable outcome by use of this seat is the immediate alignment provided for proper pelvic positioning (like a T-Stool). In addition, the seat provides support and proprioceptive input, which translates to greater focus, participation and engagement. These wiggle seats for children with ADHD and Autism are unique and beneficial.
Inflatable Disc: These wiggle seats are round inflated discs, most often seen in classrooms. Like the wedges, they typically have different textures on each side, enabling the child to select his/her preference. These seats improve posture, balance, core strength and as a result improve attention, have a calming effect and improve behavior. Disc seats can vary in their benefits based on inflation. If the seat is fully inflated, the disc encourages balance and core engagement. Partially inflated, the disc provides greater movement therefore enabling more proprioceptive input.
Foot Bands: These bands are super-fun and beneficial. Think of an exercise resistive band tied around the front legs of your chair as a footrest-that’s exactly what this is. Similar to resistive exercise bands, foot bands come in a variety of tensions based on a child's needs. Foot bands provide sizable amounts of active input while sitting but do so in a discrete way. They provide calming and organizing input through their resistive nature as well as improving posture by facilitating an upright position.
Active sitting, also referred to as continuous seated movement, relaxes the right side of your brain, which results in improved focus. Finding the best balance between sitting and movement will facilitate greater success in the classroom. Giving your child the option to select his/her favorite wiggle seat will improve compliance and participation resulting in better outcomes (focus and attention as well as less disruptive behaviors). Participation in the classroom is critical; however, these wiggle seats simultaneously provide children with much needed sensory input. Speak to your occupational therapist to determine what wiggle seat he/she recommends. The more individualized the product, the more beneficial the outcome.