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getting a very active/adhd/sensory problems child to sit in school????

(11 Posts)
meerkatsandkookaburras Wed 14-Oct-09 19:34:12

my ds is 4 next month he is autistic, the paed says probable adhd too, and the ot has said his constant on the go ways are due to proprioception problems and an underresponsive vestibular system (i think that was it anyway, i know what it means and what she said just muddled with terms!) anyway, he never sits down, hes been at preschool for 10 months and they have got him sometimes to join in sitting down for things though not often. Anyway, for numerous reasons were looking to special school now the p[eople hes sees are finally agreeing he is not coping in mainstream!!

so is your child like this? if so, how do the school/ special school control this??

we have looked around 3 special schools. the first io didnt like for numerous reasons and dont know their policy on this, the second work with the kids in the monring for as long as possible to calm them until they can get them to be ready to sit down for times its necessary and then repeat this during the day as necessary. The third, do a whole school "fun fit" excercise type thing in the morning - only 25 i think it is in school so not as busy as it sounds, then the kids sit in their "learning chairs - strapped in if like my ds for the remainder of the day except play times, pe, and other times they need to be active etc. These learning chairs are provided by ot for every child there designed to be right for each child.

Im not sure i like the idea of this chair thing, am i being a bit precious is this what he needs, or do you think its odd too?? any opinions greatly recieved as this is one major thing that puts me off this particular school but i dont know if i should think thats a good idea as they will have him controlled instead of climbing walls, howevere the second school insist their kids climb walls too til they calm them down, they were all sat lovely wehn i looked around but you could see they had potential to be little houdini monkeys too lol

Marne Wed 14-Oct-09 20:07:10

Hi, dd2 is 3.6 and at a main stream nursery and a SN nursery, at main stream her 1:1 (which is for an hour each session) is working on getting her to sit still, they are using activities that interest her (food and numbers) which seems to working for her, at the moment they only expect her to sit down for 10 minutes at a time, they started with 5 minutes and will slowly build up to 30 minutes. Last week she sat for 10 minutes colouring in numbers when prompted by her 1:1.

At her SN nursery she has a small group session (2-3 children) where they do activities in a small room at a table (again they start with 5 minutes and work up).

We are unsure where to send dd2 to school next september. I am unsure about special needs schools as they are trained to deal with special needs children in general (which is a huge amount of different needs and conditions). I would like dd2 to go to main steam but i do worry about her not being able to sit still or do as she's told. Dd2 has been offered a place at our local SN school, its a lovely school but i don't know it it is right for dd2.

I don't like the idea of the chairs, i would hate dd2 to be strapped to a chair, i much prefer the 'let them run around and burn it off' approach (as long as there is some control).

sickofsocalledexperts Wed 14-Oct-09 20:23:42

I have never heard of these chairs, and instinctively don't like them!. My DS sounds alsmost exactly like yours at that age Meerkat - just WOULD NOT SIT DOWN EVEN FOR A SECOND. We have used ABA to get him to gradually learn to sit for 30 secs (then he gets a reward, like a go on the swing), then 1 min (then get a bigger reward, plus loads of praise) then sit for 2 mins (bigger reward( etc etc). He's now aged 6, in mainstream, with a helper, though I'm also now trying medications for his ADHD (with varying levels of success, but it's early days). I remember the first time I saw him sit down for register - I was amazed , as at the "special" pre-school, they had bascially had to put their legs over his legs to get him to sit down even for a second. I don't know what the answer is for you, but I'd say trust your instincts and maybe the slow, sure behavioural approach can eventually work for your DS too?

meerkatsandkookaburras Thu 15-Oct-09 17:50:03

yeah i really think i dont like the chairs idea though i dont know, anyone else think anything of this idea?

ICANDOTHAT Thu 15-Oct-09 17:58:15

OMG! My son has ADHD and it would break my heart to see him strapped in a chair. If they can't sit, are they not doing other forms of learning ie: hands on water/sand/outside learning ... I'm not an expert obviously and I know I have made this sound simplified, but my instinct is NO to the chair.

misscutandstick Thu 15-Oct-09 18:56:53

oh dear lord NO, NO NO!!

DS1 is ADHD i would hate to think what it would do to him mentally to be strapped into a chair! and hes 17yrs now!

I absolutely understand your concerns. DS5 (3.5y) is (unDx'd) Autistic, and im getting to the point of ADD/ADHD being a certainty too. He really doesnt sit for a second, really NOT a second. Permanently on the go.

His nursery just kinda let him get on with it (major concerns actually, how much learning is going on whilst hes "getting on with it"?, and also they send him home when they have class special activities which he cant sit thru - music, assembly, shows/performances). He copes just fine - they dont.

SO in answer to Q. I dont have any answer at all blush, but when you do know, our nursery would love to know!!! grin

TotalChaos Thu 15-Oct-09 19:10:38

not got much experience of this, as DS's concentration was much improved by the time he started school, but I really don't like the idea of the special learning chairs at all. the second' school's approach sounds much kinder.from what i've heard sometimes OT can recommend simple adaptations such as special cushions/fidget toys to encourage a child to sit still more.

tethersend Thu 15-Oct-09 19:14:18


This is, at best, unethical; at worst, illegal. Do not send your DS there.

I would second sickof's endorsement of ABA, having used it with severely autistic students who would not sit down at all. Giving a child an incentive to sit down enables them to learn to sit at a desk and enjoy it- ie, they benefit from doing so.

One useful technique is to hand a running child a cue to go to the table (eg a piece of an unmade puzzle), and then give a reward as soon as they get there. As sickof describes, you can extend the amount of time spent sitting incrementally.

This is far superior to strapping children in seats angry- what happens when the child needs to sit down at the doctors for instance and there's no straps to keep them there? Ultimately, utterly ineffective. And wrong.

linglette Thu 15-Oct-09 20:04:10

the special direct catalogue has quite a few ideas. (

The ADHD section (my son doesn't have it so hope this is relevant) has some things like - cushions to provide deep pressure, a sit-on wedge (you have to actively apply pressure to stay seated) and a fab-looking ball with a rim called a "busylegz" where you can discretely "pedal" the ball around under a desk (a bit like having a secret exercise bike hidden under your desk).

BobbingForPeachys Fri 16-Oct-09 09:18:52

He sounds a lot like ds3, albeit somewhat younger.

I have never come across a strap in chair for any child not at risk of falling; if someone did that to ds3 I'd be on the warpath.

What helped with ds3 over time (and eerything after all is over time) was a combination approach- at carpet time a special delineated mat that is his area and a bag full of toys he can stroke / pull etc (taggy blanket, squeezy ball, favourite teddy). His cahir has a sensory seeling device which is like half a ball with spikes on (not as cruel as it sounds LOL- soft spikes naturally). That gives him a sense of where he is in his environment and hives him the sensory feedback he so badly craves without having to leave his seat.

In class activities a TA is assigned to him as well (SNU so no actual 1-1 support usually,small clas of 6 kids and they put in TA where needed as well as one floating). She constantly reminds ds3 to sit down,etc and they also ahve a thing where every time someone speaks they refer back to ds3 and ask him to repeat soemthing said to keep him focussed.

I feel ds3 is now settled into where he is developmentally (some adhd traits according to school, asd dx, severe on CARs, significant language issues and some areas of HFA chucked in for balance) so am looking at ABA probably next year, but as I will cover that at Uni after Christmas it's easiest to wait until then.

magso Fri 16-Oct-09 09:55:12

My instinct is to hate the idea of strapping a movement needing child in a seat. Ds absolutly hates any restraint and would fight tooth and nail (literally) to resist it ( still does at nearly 10).
However he did learn to accept his car seat belt without a fight and infact that very ability to sit stillish in the car helped him take notice and learn. He learnt his colours in the car (not purple or pink ofcourse). The seat belt of course keeps him safe - but it also helps him remember to sit. I can see that possibly ( devils advocate here) that if built up gradually a comfortable seat belt may help remind a child to stay on task. ( But I still don't like it!!)

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