Can A Therapy Ball Help A Wiggly Child?

The Question:
Has anyone ever used therapy/stability balls as chairs for your “fidgety” kids? What are your grounds for sitting on the ball? I have a student who is always sitting on his knees in his chair, so I wanted to try a ball with him.
The Answers:
We have them in some of our kinder classrooms. I don’t really feel they help. Most of our kids roll around on them and bounce and fall off of them on purpose. I don’t care for them but that is my opinion. I know what they were meant to do but I am not sure they accomplish that.
 I would love to hear opinions and info on this…
 Yes, after seeing a report on national TV news, I bought about four of them and tried it. The children loved them and fought over them. I didn’t see that it made a big difference with the wiggly children. Perhaps it might have made a difference if everyone in the class had one. It was such a headache to “share” them. I’ve also tried taking the bottom portion of the table legs off and having all the children sit on the floor. That didn’t work so well, either. We’re sticking with regular chairs from now on ….
 Our resource department has these round disks for the kids to sit on- it goes on their chair. I thought it helped a bit. Another teacher suggested a partially inflated beach ball
I want to… heard they are great but storage and cost are issues for me.
I used a ball for a very fidgety child to whom mother refused to give any medication. Only rule he had to follow was ” No bouncing”. It made him have to subconsciously focus so he wouldn’t fall off. There was some improvement in schoolwork.
 I was considering the same idea!! I’d like to know how it works for those who have used it. Thought about writing a donorschoose grant for a class set of them . . .
 I’ve used a music stand & had him/her stand to do ‘seat work’… it helps for a short time.
 I got one last year and found that it caused more problems than it solved. I have been thinking about getting it out and trying it with a child who can’t sit properly in his chair, but I know that there will be 18 other kids wanting to sit in it, so I haven’t tried it with him yet. A special needs teacher told me about using the partially inflated beach ball several years ago for an especially fidgety child and again, I found that it caused more problems than it solved. One thing that I did find that helps for ones who can’t sit still during whole group lessons on the rug is to let them sit in a rocking chair a little away from the group. Many kids need the rocking movement to help them stay focused.
I have a fidgety child who also gets occupational therapy. His OT teacher lent me a balance disc cushion that sits on top of the seat of his chair. It has worked wonders. He no longer sits on his knees, falls out if his chair, or wiggles all around. It is called Core Disk. They are expensive, but you can find cheaper ones that have little spikes on them that essentially do the same thing on amazon.
 A 4th grade teacher in our school does, but I prefer to let the kids stand instead of sit, at least for cutting.
 This article was in my local newspaper last week.
 The 4th grade teacher at my school has them for all of her students. Not sure how they’d do in kdg. I know I have some that just can’t sit…might be worth a try.
 I just let the kids sit on their knees on their chair or stand. Or work on their bellies on the rug. Reading this, I’d like to try a deflated beach ball though. No harm if it doesn’t help- they only cost $1.
In our school, we have a student that has a “chair” that is like the exercise ball but has a frame around it; I have also had access to the disks that go on the chairs and have seen them help wiggly kids.
My mom teaches Kinder and has not tried it with her kids, but I teach 2nd grade and found them to be AMAZING! I use it as a reward and the kids follow the standards (so far) or they lose their turn on it. I don’t know that Kindergarteners would benefit from this!
 I have 3 of them in my room. Two are permanently with students who truly need them and one is shared among the class….it just moves up and down groups each day. I have seen a marked improvement in focus and impulse control. I do have bases for all of them. If you can afford the actually base, buy a large shallow dog dish…works perfectly for 1/2 the price. My rules are no bouncing, feet in front of you and the ball stays on the base. If the “traveling ball” has any of these rules broken, it automatically moves to the next person. It only took one kid to lose it and now nobody messes around with it. It took us about a week to get over the excitement and see results. The kids who truly need the ball have no issues following the rules.
Beverly Anne
I tried giving balls to the two Helpers for the day last year and they worked great when the kids were sitting on them, but I got sick & tired of them rolling around during transitions, so I didn’t use them this year. However, I didn’t have bases. I might try it again if I can get bases. The balance disk seems to be helping the child with autism in the room next door.
I have them for my k class.  It’s important to establish rules- I had one friend who liked to dribble his ball chair. I still have a few who try and sit on their knees, but it has really made a difference in my room!
 I work with a psychologist who sits on one with a base with wheels. It was very comfortable.

One thought on “Can A Therapy Ball Help A Wiggly Child?

  1. If you have access to an OT who knows about sensory integration, consult him/her. Kids who sit on their feet may benefit from a weighted vest or lap weights – sitting on feet provides a level of deep pressure and emotional security that the ball may not provide.

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