Whether you are an occupational therapist, special education teacher, or simply a teacher who is trying to make their classroom more sensory friendly, there is a wide variety of occupational therapy equipment that can help a child with autism or sensory processing challenges reach their fullest potential.
Often, it can become overwhelming to determine which products might be the most beneficial. It's importnatn to consider your child’s unique sensory, emotional, and attentional needs to determine which sensory equipment will work to serve them best.
This article will give you a thorough overview of the most common and effective tools that occupational therapists use to meet the special needs of children. We will cover occupational therapy equipment overall, but with special notes about how they can be used in the classroom environment as well.
Sensory Friendly Seating
The main goal of most sensory seating equipment is to provide extra sensory input to your child through their joints. This will often result in better attention and focus. Below are some seating options you can choose from. Ultimately, the seat you choose should be what works best for your child. You may want to involve them in the shopping process!
A wiggle cushion is another common option. This can be used in two different ways, which makes it flexible and cost-efficient. Often, the cushion is simply placed on the child’s seat, again providing sensory input to your child.
This cushion can also be placed on the floor, allowing your child to stand on it as he or she engages in classroom activities. This is a great option for children who are sensory seekers and might benefit from changing positions throughout class.
Some children with sensory processing challenges or other special needs may struggle with handwriting tasks.
The school setting is an ideal place to explore tools that might assist your child with writing. There are several options available, each with a slightly different purpose.
A writing rascal is a small tool that fits on your child’s pencil. These are often motivating for children to use, due to the silly face and different color options. A writing rascal helps promote a tripod grasp, which is the grasp we use when writing.
The hand writer is another option that also will help facilitate the grasp pattern children need in order to successfully write. This tool goes one step further and assists with pulling the pencil into the correct position, which might be needed for some children.
Pencil weights are a great option for children who have handwriting that is messy or difficult to read. The extra weight helps to provide more sensory input to your child’s hand. This helps their hand and finger muscles “wake up,” which assists them with better focus and can also help them write for longer periods of time.
Children with special needs often struggle with endurance when it comes to writing tasks. Aslant board can help with this by placing less strain on their shoulder, arms, and hands. This also helps make writing more comfortable by promoting good posture and the angle of the board puts the child’s hand in the ideal position for writing.
Another common handwriting issue is spacing between words. A finger spacer is a tool that can assist your child with learning the correct spacing between words. It also assists with helping children write in the correct direction (left to right). Check with your child’s school occupational therapist to determine the correct size finger spacer for your child’s needs.
In today’s occupational therapy equipment market, there are countless options available in terms of tools to assist children with being successful in the school setting. Since most of these tools are sensory-based, it is important to have a good understanding of your child’s specific sensory needs. Your child’s occupational therapist will be able to help you with this so that your child will be given the most appropriate accommodations.