Being a teacher often in involves some creativity. Whether it’s making a lesson easier to understand or keeping the class interested, teachers often find unique ways to help their students succeed. Speech language pathologist Amy Maplethorpe is no exception.
Amy teaches at Raymond Ellis Elementary School in Round Lake, Illinois. With a little bit of work and a lot of creativity, she found a way to help students with sensory concerns. The language pathologist used hot glue to attach tennis ball halves to chairs in the school’s sensory room.
Helping Students With Sensory Input
Amy told The Huffington Post the chairs are helpful for kids who have trouble regulating sensory input within their body and in their environment. Some of the students who experience difficulty in this area have been diagnosed with autism. Others have been diagnosed with down syndrome or sensory processing disorder.
Sensory processing disorder refers to the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavior responses. SPD occurs when sensory signals are either not detected or they don’t get organized into appropriate responses. A person who is diagnosed with SPD has a hard time processing and acting on information they receive through the senses. This makes it difficult to perform everyday tasks.
The tennis balls offer a different texture than the regular chairs. Amy explained, “By sitting down on it, it could just be that input that a student needs at that time instead of that flat surface that kind of gives that rounded feel to the chair.”
The results are different for every student. But Amy has noticed benefits from the chairs in many of her students. “First-grade students that have used the chair, they have become more patient and have followed directions,” she said. She also noticed a decrease in restlessness from her younger students, while they waited to take tests.
One of Amy’s students with autism likes to run his hand over the tennis balls. This is another way to get sensory input. Another student enjoys sitting in the chair while listening to music.
Beth Kiewicz is the Principal at Raymond Ellis Elementary. She told ABC News, “When a child’s sensory needs are met that allows us to move on to their academic needs. You have to look at the whole child – socially, emotionally and academically. That’s why we’re here.”
Raymond Ellis Elementary School posted a photo of Amy with her chairs on its Facebook page. The post has been shared more than 91,000 times. Amy credits the idea to Pinterest and she is thrilled with the results. “I’m really excited that this has taken off and I’m really excited to see the benefits for students across the country, and educators and parents,” she said.
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