What are the benefits of the different types of sensory seating?
The different types of sensory cushions and sensory chairs are designed to give these children movement opportunities that are safer and less distracting, in comparison to what they might be seeking already. There are a few different types. We will discuss the pros and cons of each below.
Air-filled or wobble cushions provide a little bit of constant movement when the child is seated in their chair. These sensory cushions are an easy option to implement in a school. They are usually inexpensive and easy to obtain. They are also small and take up very little space. There are a few drawbacks though and we discuss them further in this post – Ten Tips for Using Wobble Cushions in the Classroom.
Sensory stools and ball chairs
One legged stools, sensory stools and ball chairs are more difficult and more expensive to obtain. All of these products work by creating an unstable surface for the child to sit on. Because they are unstable and the child has to constantly move in order to stay seated, one draw back of these is they can become quite tiring. I recommend that, if a child is using this type of sensory seating, that they also have access to a regular chair. If the child sits on this seating all day, they can become quite tired. A disadvantage of these seats are the additional space that they take up in the classroom. They can be a better option than sensory cushions though, as they provide more movement overall.
Sensory chairs and other sensory seating
Sensory chairs and sensory seats actually move when they are sat on. Some products on the market, e.g. Zuma Rocker, actually rock when you sit in them. These rock in a safe way, which ensures the child (or adult) does not fall backwards. There is a variety of sensory chairs on the market these days. Most are quite expensive. They will also take up the space of a regular chair, however, unlike the ball chairs and stools, a child can usually sit in one all day, so an alternative chair is not necessary. It is highly recommended sensory chairs are tested before purchase. Often the companies have their products available to try at trade shows (e.g. Kidz South/North, Autism Show in the UK). If you have a good relationship with the company representative they may also facilitate an onsite trial at your school.
When choosing sensory seating make sure you