In the last issue, I wrote about how, for some people, more movement actually makes them more dysregulated. Structured movement is what they need! Since school is back in full swing, this issue will focus on strategies/tools to help children sit on the carpet or floor.
Brainwaves is a monthly newsletter designed to create some “brainwaves” within my community of colleagues, friends and clients.
Why is sitting on the carpet so hard!?
Sitting on the carpet can be very hard for some children! Some can do it for a short period of time before they begin to fidget and squirm. Some can’t seem to do it at all and begin to flop or sprawl all over the floor, leaning on their peers, falling forwards or backwards and even getting up and jumping around, oblivious to their peers’ fingers, feet or hands!
There are many possible reasons why some children find it so difficult to sit in one spot on the carpet. OT’s often think that many children in today’s world don’t spend enough time climbing, rolling, jumping, spinning, rocking and generally moving their bodies through space. A lack of this sort of movement results in children who have unintegrated postural reflexes, very weak core muscles, and often difficulty with focusing their eyes forward (because our eyes are connected to our movement system). Aside from seeking specific OT interventions in these areas, there are some seating “tools” that might help. I will share my thoughts about how to select the right seating “tool”.
Carpet Squares/structured spots
Most teachers these days use designated spots on the carpet for kindergarten children, although some children may need this type of support beyond kindergarten. These teachers either have an area rug/carpet that already contains “spots”, they place masking tape “X’s” on the carpet or they use carpet squares (or circles) or hoola hoops (to demarcate personal bubbles).
Another idea for little bottoms is a cube chair. This chair is reversible so that it sits low and has high sides or sits high and has low sides. It seems to help with carpet sitting for children who have weak core strength, for those that need some firm structure for where to sit and for those who understand that sitting happens in a chair. It comes in many colors and is light enough to carry from room to room in school. You can purchase cube chairs at www.fdmt.ca or www.qualityclassrooms.com
These chairs are comfortable and work great for kids who have weak core muscles and tend to become floppy or need to lie down or lean. They are also somewhat “reversible” but generally work well for kids who can sit with just a little bit of bouncing or rocking. They can be purchased at www.qualityclassrooms.com
There are many, many different varieties of air filled cushions or wedge seats available. Some have texture on one side and come in different shapes and sizes. They seem to work well for students who find sitting on the carpet is too firm and need something that allows them to wiggle. Personal preference seems to dictate what a student may chose. The most IMPORTANT point about these cushions is that they should only be slightly inflated so that sitting on it lifts the child’s bottom slightly off the floor otherwise it feels like they are sitting on a hard ball and becomes very unstable. When properly inflated, the cushion still have a notable concave surface and appear as if it needs more air but it doesn’t. Sit on it yourself to test it out! Various distributors including www.fdmt.ca and a local company www.zensationssensorysolutions.com
These are sold in a variety of fun shapes, sizes, and textures by www.senseez.com They are marketted for students to sit on and the vibration does help some students to feel more “grounded”. My experience is that these cushions are loud enough to be distracting to other students during carpet time. They do seem to work for sensory/cozy corners and students can also lean, stand or hug them to enjoy the vibration input.