The idea of alternative seating is gaining popularity among therapy clinics, classrooms and even business offices. What is alternative seating? Simply put, it provides alternatives to the everyday chairs we use. It allows individuals to receive sensory input through gentle body movements, promotes proper posture, increases attending skills and helps with understanding personal boundaries. Carpet squares, cube chairs, bean bags, bean bag chairs, pillows, peanut balls, ball chairs, wobble chairs, sit 'n' gyms and movin' sit cushions are some alternative seating options to check out. BUT, why spend the money when you can create your own alternative seating options?! Here are some of my favorite (and easy) sensory hacks to try.
Hack #1: Use a plastic milk crate and a child-size yoga ball. Don’t have a milk crate? Try a cardboard box. It won’t last as long, but will temporarily prevent the ball from rolling away. Need something for a larger ball? Try a plastic party tub. Or, create your own ball base by using a pool noodle from the dollar store.
Some children like to sit in tight spaces. Provide that secure feeling for your child with these next two thrifty sensory hacks. Hack #2: Do you have an extra storage bin laying around your house? Cut ⅔ of the lid out. Apply duct tape around the part that was cut to assure there are no sharp edges. Then throw a small blanket or pillow inside.
Hack #3: You’ll need a rectangular-shaped laundry basket, along with towels, blankets or pillows. Line the laundry basket with the soft materials you’ve collected while leaving space in the middle for your child to sit. Bonus: It’s quick and easy to recreate this seating option at others’ houses, if needed.
Hack #4: Use a paint bucket to make a stool with built-in storage. Check out this tutorial with step-by-step directions. Children and students will likely take more ownership of their stools, and sitting on them, if they can decorate their own bucket.
Hack #5: Let them stand! A very smart physical therapist once asked me if I sit or stand while cutting vegetables or putting on makeup (thanks for the insight, Norma Wall!). For some activities, our bodies are able to focus better and complete tasks with more ease by standing instead of sitting. So ask yourself, could my child or student better focus on the task at hand while standing? If so, let them stand!
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