About a month ago, a television reporter went to elementary school classrooms around these parts to tell us about “wiggle chairs.” The chairs helped first- and second-graders sit at their table and get their work done.
I recognized them instantly. When Sam was in elementary school, he went to the occupational therapy lab once a week at Texas Woman’s University. Students worked with him under the supervision of one of the professors. The students from that first semester (fall 1993) was incredibly sweet. The two students were so excited to be working with Sam (first, autism was rarer back then, and they were clearly helping him a lot) that they made him part of their project in another class, too. They built him a t-stool and gave it to him at the end of the semester.
When I first saw it, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could sit on it. We humans are bipeds. How a person can ride a unicycle or travel down the sidewalk on a pogo stick? Just watching makes me tilt slightly to one side.
Sam didn’t use the t-stool a lot, but I did from time to time, in front of television, for example. Your legs help turn the stool into a tripod. That was the point. You wobbled and wiggled your way to stability.
Of course, the concept went mainstream, although the wiggle chairs they are making for elementary school kids are a little better anchored. You could fall over while sitting on that t-stool if you didn’t pay attention (that’s the point). Most kids bounce. But sometimes they don’t.
This isn’t the first time a therapeutic tool like that has gone mainstream. For example, my former aerobics instructor marveled once during a lunch hour workout that many of the tools our class used (steps, balls, slides, rubber bands) were once physical therapy tools. We should pay close attention the next time one of us was injured and used something new in therapy, she said, joking that we could get rich turning it into a workout routine.
It’s a thing, y’all. Pay close attention to whatever techniques or tool special education teachers and therapists are using. Chances are it’s something cutting edge, and in a year or two, all the teachers will be doing it.