Tip 1 – Monitor wobble cushions in the classroom
Make sure you’re monitoring the child’s response to the cushion. You need to be sure that the child’s attention and/or focus is improving once they start using the air-filled sensory cushion. There is no value in having a child sit on a cushion if it is not helping. We discuss things that you can look out for on our sensory seating page.
Tip 2 – Inflate it!
You must always inflate the wobble cushion! I know this seems like a rudimentary comment but I have been into schools before where well-meaning assistants have taken out all of the stoppers because children were playing with them. I have children report that their stopper was missing and they were still sitting on the cushion.
Without the air, the child may as well just be sitting on a piece of plastic. The sensory cushions typically come deflated and need a bit of air blown into them before they are used. They will also need checking from time to time. Most cushions have a valve that comes out, but some need to be inflated with a ball pump and needle. This just depends on the brand and design. The Move and Sit cushion and Disc-o-sit both have valves that come out.
How much should I inflate my wobble cushion?
The movement cushion should have enough air in it so that it is unstable when the child sits on it. If it is too deflated, the child will touch the bottom of the cushion when they sit down. If it is over inflated, the cushion will rock side to side like a sea-saw without a student sitting on it.
The base of the cushion should be stable, but when a student sits on the wobble cushion in the classroom it should move. The student should be able to move around gently as they are seated. The amount of air will also change depending on the student’s size as heavier students will need slightly more air than lighter students.
We show you how to inflate a sensory wobble cushion in this video. It’s important to make sure there is the correct amount of air in the sensory cushion.
Tip 3 – Ensure the child is sitting on the sensory cushion
The child must be fully seated on the movement cushion! Again, a simple thing to check for but I have frequently seen children in schools perching on the front of their chair to avoid sitting on the cushion. This often happens with the wedge style movement cushions (e.g. Move and Sit). If the child is perching at the front of their chair with only a little bit of their body touching the cushion, then they are not going to get any benefit from it. The child should have their body back in the chair so that they are sat fully on the wobble cushion in the classroom.
Tip 4 – Check the size of the wobble cushions
Make sure the sensory cushion is the right size for the child. Typically wobble cushions for students come in two sizes: child and adult. The child’s entire bottom and the top of their thighs should be on the cushion. Their thighs should not be bulging over the sides. Older and or bigger students may need an adult size (I have worked with one eight year old who required an adult-sized cushion). Don’t just assume a child will need a child’s size. Match the cushion size to the individual student’s needs.
Tip 5 – Do the child’s feet still touch the ground?
You must make sure the child can still touch the ground with their feet when they are sitting on the wobble cushion in the classroom. The cushion, especially the Move and Sit wedge style, will make the child sit higher in their seat. The movement also makes them more unstable in their seat. If their feet are not touching the ground they may fall out of their chair. They may also be more disruptive with their movement to the other students in the class.