My child needs to move!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Research indicates that a student's academic performance is directly related to whether he/she is able to attend long enough to learn the information presented. Sitting in one position for long periods of time can be a real struggle for some children (and adults!) By providing children with opportunities to move and change position we increase a child's ability to pay attention by increasing the sensory input he or she is receiving.

There have now been a range of studies investigating the effectiveness of dynamic seating options on attention in class. They have all found that children demonstrated increased attention to task and improved academic performance by being permitted to move while still seated. Dynamic seating is a simple, practical, and relatively inexpensive strategy. There are a range of options available, all having different features: 

* Move'n'Sit Cushion - We usually recommend this option when children need movement and they also have poor postural muscle tone. The wedge shape assists by tilting their pelvis, therefore assisting children to maintain better sitting posture. Available in blue. $56.85


* Disc-o-sit Cushion - This is a favourite as it gives the option of extra tactile input on one side, and none on the other. It can also be inflated by mouth, so it's easy to adjust the level of inflation to suit the child. Available in red. $55.50


* AllCare Air Cushion - At $36 this is a cheaper option. It has the tactile option on one side, but not the adjustable inflation. Available in blue.


* Stability Disc - This option has a smooth surface on both sides and comes in a range of colours. $51.50


* Sensory Seat Tactile Mat - This is an option that only provides tactile input, no movement - This time for the tactile seekers/movement avoiders! $31.00


* Howdahug Seats - These are much loved! They are ideal for mat time, where the other options above can be used for mat time as well as at the desk. The howdahug seats allow children to move while being fully supported and 'hugged' - the extra sensory input providing the calming some children need to focus. $89.95


* Senseez Vibrating Cushions - These are new and now come in a vinyl range (4 colours and shapes $66.50) and a delightful Touchables range (4 fluffy designs $73.50). This time the sensory input is gentle vibration and this can be just the thing to help some children settle. We've only had these a couple of months and they've been very popular! 


Just as an aside.....In a 2014 clinical trial with 23 families involved, Senseez Pillows showed that:  

-70% had an increase in their child’s attention span 

-67% found Senseez helped to soothe and calm their children

-72% said Senseez helped in their daily living activities and tasks

-86% said they would recommend Senseez Pillows to other families


Concentrating in the classroom - What works?

Sunday, June 01, 2014

We have daily phone calls from parents identifying concentration at school as a problem for their child. There can be all sorts of contributing factors, which is why a proper assessment of the situation is always a good idea. Mat time is often a tricky time as kids may have issues with:

* touch (eg hypersensitive to other kids touching them, constantly seeking tactile input for calming),

* movement (eg need movement to stay alert, difficulty maintaining their postural control),

* auditory or visual processing (eg easily overwhelmed in a more confined area)

* and there are more reasons as well, eg language comprehension.

Tactile seekers benefit by having access to a small container of fidget items, eg pieces of satin, a sea anenome, a cobweb ball, or any of the items in our 'Sensory Seekers Pack'

Tactile avoiders are better with a small stool or a carpet square so they have their own space with less 'risk' of them being touched.

Movement seekers do very well with disco sit cushions, and kids who need movement as well has postural support do well with either move'n'sit cushions or the howdahug chairs.

For children who are easily overwhelmed by noise you can try setting up a quieter place for them to go, eg a beanbag a little bit separate from the group but still within vision and hearing distance from the teacher.

These are just some simple, quick strategies which can give instant improvements and can be considered 'first line of defence'. The important thing is to identify the underlying issue and this is best done by watching the child during mat time with your 'sensory processing hat' on. This means watching carefully how they react to different sensory stimuli. There are many more factors at play and strategies to consider, and this is where you would call on an OT to give you a hand.