Why Wiggle Seats are Awesome

Why Wiggle Seats are So Amazing

What is a wiggle seat?

A wiggle seat is a tool that can help children with Autism (and other disorders) stay seated for longer periods of time, particularly during school hours and at home while working on homework. I’ve seen them used in schools before, and while I was a bit skeptical at first, I’ve fallen in love with them since.

Let me clarify before we go any further that a wiggle seat will not necessarily cure a child’s need to move. What it does is help them meet that need while simultaneously allowing them to learn like more like their peers. It’s there to make the child’s struggle with learning in a general education setting just a little bit easier.

What do they look like?

There are different versions of this tool, but here are some of the more common ones I’ve seen used.

This example is from TherapyShoppe.com:

thumb.php2

This one is from Isokinetics on Amazon.com

71x+ZdIaZBL._SL1500_

This smooth version is from Walmart: (Notice how it’s simply meant to sit on any chair so the child can move it as needed.

Walmart1Walmart2

So as you can see, there are all sorts of wiggle seats. In fact, we’re just hitting the tip of the iceberg here. But I don’t want this post to be an ad, so we’re going to talk next about exactly what wiggle seats do and why some children find them so helpful.

How it meets sensory needs for kids with Autism (and ADHD!)

The National Autism Resource Blog article, “5 Strategies to Help Kids with ADD/ADHD and Autism focus in the Classroom,” says it’s all about core work. Children with Autism often have weak muscle tone. While researchers aren’t exactly sure why, we do have ways to help them strengthen those cores. The blog says that wiggle seats do two jobs by first, helping kids work their core muscles often, and two, lowering energy levels so they can focus more. It makes sense. If you’ve got energy zooming around your body all the time, you’re going to focus better if it’s got an outlet!

A writer in on Families of Autistic Children Engaged Together for Support (FACETS), Parent Recommended Resources: Therapy Tools says that wiggle seats help her son by providing some sensory input needs in the classroom without being too distracting to everyone else. Children with Autism often also have SPD, or Sensory Processing Disorder. This means that they often get too much or too little sensory stimuli from the world around them. If you notice, most wiggle seats have a bumpy side and a smooth side, so children can choose what kind of sensory input they prefer.

How it meets sensory needs for kids with ADHD

While wiggle seats are generally seen more in the world of Autism, they’ve been known to help children with ADHD as well. Phys.org’s article, “Kids with ADHD need to fidget, study says,” reports that a man named Dr. Mark Rapport led a study on 23 pre-teen boys. 12 had ADHD and 11 did not. They monitored the boys’ movements on video recordings and small devices called actigraphs. The problems made the boys use their working memory, and while the boys worked, those with ADHD jumped and fidgeted in ways not even the camera could pick up.

Dr. Rapport says, “that, just as adults drink coffee to stay alert during a boring meeting, ADHD kids jiggle and wiggle to maintain alertness.” Basically, everyone thinks children with ADHD have naturally hyper systems. Really, they have sluggish systems, and just as a driver might shake his head to stay away on the road, the body and brain are constantly trying to wake themselves up. Dr. Rapport believes this has to do with too little dopamine production.

ADDitude, one of my favorite go-to resources for ADD/ADHD has an article, “ADHD at School: Hyperactivity Help,” that suggests using wiggle seats in the classroom for children who just can’t sit still. They even have a link for one of the less expensive wiggle seats I’ve seen.

Interesting factoid: Scientists think Tourette Syndrome may be the result of the opposite problem – too much dopamine production.
Rapport said that, just as adults drink coffee to stay alert during a boring meeting, ADHD kids jiggle and wiggle to maintain alertness.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news162554898.html#jCp

Rapport said that, just as adults drink coffee to stay alert during a boring meeting, ADHD kids jiggle and wiggle to maintain alertness.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news162554898.html#jCp

Rapport said that, just as adults drink coffee to stay alert during a boring meeting, ADHD kids jiggle and wiggle to maintain alertness.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news162554898.html#jCp

How I’ve seen them used in elementary schools

I’ve seen these tools used in classrooms before in multiple grades, and I can tell you that the kids I worked with really liked them. They weren’t disruptive at all, and the children could move without distracting all their classmates. I’ve seen a child who took it everywhere, even home, while another one left it at school and used it as needed. The other kids didn’t bother them over it, but rather just saw it as something those children used.

Again, no tool will fix every struggle in school, but I think this one is a great way to help children with the wigglies really focus in a way that’s not constantly drawing attention to themselves. It’s embarrassing to be told by the teacher to “sit down” and “stop moving” constantly. These tools can be written into special education legal documents, or they might be something the school lets the child use unofficially. If you think your child might benefit from something like this, the first step is to talk to your child’s teacher to see if she thinks it would help.

Note: I’m not promoting any one product over another. The only reason I cited different therapy toy sellers is to give an example of the variety these tools come in.

Do you have experience with wiggle seats? Please share any comments or questions in the Comment Box below. I’d love to hear what you think! Also, don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter to receive extra resources I don’t include in my blog, encouragement, and a gift as a thank you for signing up. Thanks for reading!

Related posts you might enjoy:

 

Posted under: ADHD, Autism

Tagged as: , , , , , , , ,

2 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.