I’m always on the hunt for inexpensive, yet highly effective and low tech means to help kids in my practice gain as much independence and level of function as possible.
When surfing Pinterest (one of my favorite things to do in my spare time), I saw that people had many uses for pool noodles, including fidgets, runners for a marble maze,etc. I also came across a post where somebody tried using PVC piping on the sides of her child’s high chair, to improve her posture to complete seated tasks. Seeing those ideas, I quickly ordered a set of pool noodles and got to work (literally) the next day, excited to try out my slowly-forming plan.
I have a few kids on my caseload who present with features of hypotonia. Thus, their ability to sit st their desk is limited (and you could basically forget the rug- no back support? Pretty impossible.) Its with these kids who I tested this seating plan out.
1. Measure the chair’s back-to-seat height. Cut two equal pieces.
2. Measure the width of the seat where it meets the back of the chair. Cut the noodle to fit.
3. With the remaining pieces, do the following:
A. Cut two small and equal pieces that will act as bolsters at the top of the strips going lengthwise down the back of the chair. These bolsters will push the strips forwards and improve positioning, if needed.
B. Fill in the gap between the strips going length-wise with remaining pool noodle pieces, for added support and security.
4. For appropriate placement and positioning, have the child sit on the chair. You will want to place the strips on the back of the chair at the point of their scapulae/shoulder blades. This in and of itself should decrease a slouched posture.
5. If the child’s feet do not reach the floor, take the strip of noodle that you measured lengthwise across the seat. Placement should push the hips forwards slightly (allowing for pelvic flexion), with increased spinal extension (this is called an anterior pelvic tilt posture, and is what we are aiming for.) If this support is not enough, and the child’s legs still do not reach the floor, utilize a stool, heavy box, etc under their feet to improve overall positioning and support.
6. We used painters tape to secure the pieces together, since in the setting where I practice, I was unable to utilize a more permanent adhesive (which I would definitely recommend!)
7.The use of the chair for the student provided was not only for desk-work, but also teacher instruction. To make the seating fun, we had a great time designing and decorating it with stickers that the child chose. Additionally, I recommended to the teachers that a few other children be allowed to sit in chairs in order to minimize feelings of self-consciousness.
Note: This was conducted on a classroom chair, but could be easily adapted to a variety of seating options in different settings.