Teacher's Brilliant Sensory Chair Goes Viral

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via Facebook

Her design could help kids with sensory issues focus in school

There’s a post going around Facebook about a teacher who created a special “sensory” chair that might help kids with various special needs. The story is going viral because her idea is pretty fantastic, proving once again that teachers are absolute heroes.

A teacher from Raymond Ellis Elementary School in Round Lake Beach, Illinois, had a very clever idea she hopes will help kids with Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder or Down syndrome.

The post on the school’s Facebook pages reads, “Miss Maplethorpe, from our Speech and Language Department, created these chairs for our students that have sensory issues.”

The school explains that the chairs, which are covered in sliced tennis balls, could help kids in the classroom. “Sensory seating is used for students who may have difficulty processing information from their senses and from the world around them. Tennis balls on the seat and backrest provide an alternative texture to improve sensory regulation.”

Sensory Smarts, a website dedicated to helping kids and adults with SPD, backs up the school’s claim that the chairs could be a great accommodation for some children. They note that one way to help kids with SPD focus better is to give them inflatable cushions to sit on so they can wiggle around while remaining seated. Childmind explains that some kids with SPD enjoy a feeling of deep pressure and like exploring various textures, so the tennis ball chair could be a solution for them.

The National Autistic Society says kids can be either overly-sensitive or under-sensitive to touch and pressure, with some even seeking out feelings of pain. This chair provides an alternative feeling that might look uncomfortable to others, but might be exactly what a child with autism or SPD needs.

The Facebook comments are overwhelmingly positive, with many parents and teachers praising Maplethorpe for her incredible idea.

When searching for items that might help a child with SPD or ASD, we saw plenty of weighted vests and different types of alternative seating. The thing they all had in common? The high cost. If something as cheap as a regular school chair and a bunch of cut up tennis balls could be the solution, that’s a huge win for both schools and parents.

Kudos to this thoughtful and creative teacher for sharing her idea.

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