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MightyTykes Infant and Child Weights Giveaway

MightyTykes Infant and Child WeightsMightyTykes Infant and Child Weights were created by a special needs mother with the help of therapists to promote the user’s physical strength and stability for optimal development. MightyTykes Infant and Child Weights can help ones progress towards milestones and may help with challenges they may face. They’re also the featured product for our eSpecial Needs Weekly Giveaway!

Therapists have found that MightyTykes Infant and Child Weights can help with:

  • Overall Weakness
  • One-sided Weakness
  • Toe-walking
  • Sensory Issues
  • Low Muscle Tone (Hypotonia)
  • Tremors
  • Visual Field Cut

Ways to Use MightyTykes Infant and Child Weights:

  1. Dangle a toy in front of the user to encourage them to lift their arms to reach or turn.
  2. Play by tossing or rolling a ball to allow the user’s a wide range of arm movements.
  3. Place the weights on the user’s ankles while they are laying down to work on the lower body.
  4. Read a book and encourage the user to point to objects on the pages.
  5. Have the user walk or stand with the weights on their ankles to help keep their feet flat and discourage toe walking.

MightyTykes Infant and Child Weights are latex free and are made in the U.S.A. This week’s giveaway will be a set of 1/4 lb MightyTykes Infant and Child Weights. They are 9.25″ x 1.75″ and can fit a circumference of 5.75″ to 7.25″. Your MightyTykes Infant and Child Weights are waterproof and can be easily cleaned by wiping them with an antibacterial wipe or they can be washed with warm, soapy water and air-dry.

Click here to fill out the entry form and good luck. The application tends to work better when the form is filled out on a computer rather than a tablet or phone. At the end of each week, one lucky fan will be notified by eSpecial Needs that you have won. No duplications will be counted. NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY. Sweepstakes ends 8-17-2014.


Active Seating in the Special Needs Classroom

Keeping a child’s attention on their school work can be difficult for any parent or teacher. Doing so when that child has autism, ADHD or some other learning disability can be even more challenging. Many of these kids have decreased muscle tone or a constant need for movement-based sensory input that contributes to fidgeting, slouching or soreness, making it tough for them to engage in learning and fine motor activities.

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So how do you keep students with these learning or developmental issues engaged and attentive in the classroom? You just might be sitting on the answer.

What is Active Seating?

“Sit still!” Most of us can probably remember being scolded in the classroom like that a few times. More and more, however, teachers and therapists are finding that may not be the best instructions for their students.

Active sitting is based on the idea that it’s not healthy for the body to be seated for long periods of time. Too much sitting still has been shown to lead to back and hip soreness, fatigue, decreased muscle tone and a lack of focusing ability. Active seating corrects these problems by promoting slight movements and adjustments for the user while they sit. These movements keep the body more engaged, alleviating the negative effects of prolonged sitting.

Here are just a few of the benefits adding a little wiggle, bounce or wobble to everyday classroom seating can have:

Improved posture and muscle tone – At the same time the student’s frequent postural adjustments strengthen the core abdominal and trunk muscles. This is important because increasing strength and muscle tone will also promote motor control to use a pencil, scissors and other classroom tools.

Sensory input and energy burning – Some kids just gotta keep moving! Their muscles crave activity, making it difficult for them to sit still for long periods of time or focus on seated activities. Because active seating lets kids move and adjust themselves in a non-disruptive way, they burn off excess energy and get the stimulus their muscles are looking for, making them more attentive in class.

Increased blood flow – As a child moves during active sitting, the heart pumps a bit faster and blood vessels in the legs and hips open up which increases blood flow. Better blood flow means more oxygen gets to the brain. With more oxygen, brain function increases, allowing for improved focus and better knowledge retention.

So now that you know the benefits, let’s talk about how to bring those benefits into the classroom with some active seating options.

Therapy Ball Chairs and Wobble Chairs

Chances are you’ve probably seen a therapy ball chair before, probably in an office setting. Child-sized ball chairs, however, make great classroom seating for children with trouble sitting still. As a student seated on a ball chair gently bounces in place, they get the sensory input they need to focus on their lessons as well as muscle tone and posture improvement.

Wobble chairs are a fairly new idea in active seating. They might lack the bounce of a ball chair, but a wobble chair’s rounded bottom keeps the sitter’s trunk and legs active for muscle strengthening and improved blood flow.

Air Cushions, Pillows and Inflatable Wedges

Therapy ball and wobble chairs are great, but they can weigh heavily on a classroom budget. They also run the risk of calling unneeded attention to the student using the chair being “different” in some way. Unless you’re thinking of buying one for every student in the classroom, you might consider something with a lower profile.

Air cushions, vibrating pillows and inflatable wedges are more affordable active seating solutions with an added bonus: versatility. Most ball chairs and wobble stools are made to stay in one place, but cushions and wedges can be taken from their desk to the floor or another classroom with ease. These items also come in a wide variety of styles and textures, allowing you to match one with a child’s specific comfort and support needs.

Your Old Friend the Bean Bag Chair

Classroom reading and sensory areas hold special places in the hearts of former students everywhere. These areas are especially important for students with attention or sensory-related disorders who may need a place to get away from the rest of the class and calm themselves.

A bean bag chair or two in one of these spaces can be particularly beneficial. As a child sinks into the chair, it molds itself around their body, providing a great deal of calming proprioceptive sensory stimulation. Cradled in the bean bag chair, children may be able to focus better during quiet activities such as reading, listening to a story with headphones or playing with squeeze toys.

Stop Sitting Still!

Here’s one last benefit of active seating before we go: It’s not just for children with special needs. Anyone can benefit from this kind of seating as a way of staying healthier and more engaged in all kinds of seated activities, even teachers! Whether it’s the classroom, office or at home, eSpecial Needs carries a wide variety of active seating options for children and adults no matter where you’re sitting. Take a look at what we have to offer, and contact us with any questions you need answered.

Photo Credit: “Teacher In Classroom” by “www.audio-luci-store.it”, used under CC BY / Cropped from original


Improving Classroom Focus for the Autistic Student

As summer winds down, teachers all over the country are preparing their classrooms for the beginning of a new school year. To create the best learning environment for all their students, they must take every child’s individual needs into consideration. This is especially true when it comes to students on the autism spectrum.

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Students with autism face unique challenges in the classroom. They can be overactive, lack focus and sometimes cause disruption to others due to their behavior. This doesn’t have to be the case, though. With careful planning, autistic students can learn right alongside their classmates with ease.

So how can teachers keep students on the spectrum engaged and focused in the classroom? Let’s take a look.

Working Together With Parents

Talking with the parents of the autistic student entering the class is the most important step in creating an effective environment for that child. Find out what difficulties they’ve faced and then devise a plan for addressing those concerns. Once you know more about your students from the people who know them best, you’ll be better prepared for the school year ahead.

And for parents, keep in mind that the learning doesn’t stop once the school bell rings. What is applied at school should also be applied at home as well as during outings and playtime. This is especially true for kids who use communication devices (books or electronic) and need reinforcement to learn items used both in the school group and the home group.

Making Seating Arrangements

Because some students with autism start out with focus problems, finding a place to sit where distractions are at a minimum is important. Hallway noise, open windows and dynamic wall displays can keep an autistic child’s focus from the lesson at hand. Seating the child close to a sensory area where they can go for calming may help them relax, boosting focus. Sitting next to an understanding child who might provide a helping hand can also have a profound effect on helping them stay on task.

Active Sitting

While most people don’t think of sitting as “active,” adding some wiggle or bounce to how someone sits can have a drastic effect on how they focus on seated activities. Active seating options like exercise ball and wobble chairs have kept working adults engaged for years now. So why not bring some active seating into a learning environment?

A kid-sized ball chair, wobble stool or air cushion can be great additions to any classroom. Along with improved posture and increased blood flow, they provide the constant motion some children with autism need to be more attentive. We’ll cover some great active seating options in more detail in a later blog post, so consider subscribing to our newsletter or blog to stay up-to-date.

Foot and Finger Fidgets

Some students always have to be doing something, whether they’re tapping their foot, pumping their leg or drumming their fingers. This kind of activity can be disruptive for classmates and the instructor, but necessary for the fidgety child to stay engaged.

Active seating can solve some of these issues, but it can be quite a drain on a classroom budget. Foot and finger fidgets can provide some of the same focus and calm as active seating at a more agreeable price. An exercise band around the legs of the chair can also be an option for kids with active feet. These items allow a student the foot or finger activity they crave so that they can pay attention in class in a less disruptive way.

Weighted Lap Pads

For other fidgety students, some gentle pressure in the form of a weighted lap pad can go a long way in increasing attention span and focus. The stimulus provided by that pressure calms nervous muscles, making it easier for a child to sit still and learn. Like foot and finger fidgets, they’re also low-key and don’t call attention to the child’s focus issues.

Classroom Lighting Filters

Some aspects of fluorescent lights a negative effect on learning and productivity for almost everyone, and especially for kids on the spectrum. Adding diffusive filters to those lights can end their harsh flicker and glare, creating a more relaxed classroom for all students, not just those with autism.

Focusing on the Classroom

We’d love to hear more tips from teachers and instructors who work with children with autism every day. What works and what doesn’t in your classrooms? What items or techniques have you tried that were particularly effective? How have you approached some of your more difficult challenges? Share your tips and stories in the comments below!

Photo Credit: “after view of my classroom” by LizMarie_AK, used under CC BY / Cropped from original