Elementary school teachers are often known for their crafting prowess, but one special needs educator took her creativity to the next level to help her students with autism.
First-year speech and language pathologist Amy Maplethorpe created a chair to help her autistic students who suffer from sensory issues.
The chairs provide “an alternative texture to improve sensory regulation,” according to a Facebook post by Raymond Ellis Elementary School. Students with autism, Down Syndrome and sensory processing disorder ma benefit from the chair, the school said.
The school’s post, which included instructions on how to make the chair, has since gone viral, with more than 66,000 reactions and 90,000 shares as of Friday.
Maplethorpe used tennis balls, a hot glue gun, Mod Podge and paint to create the chairs, which will service 15 to 20 students, she told ABC News.
Students with autism often have a hard time “processing sensory information,” according to autism advocacy Autism Speaks. Items such as vests, blankets and the tennis ball chair can often help to sooth a student.
Maplethorpe said she was inspired to create the chairs after seeing a similar project on Pinterest.
“I wanted to continue to address the various sensory needs present at Ellis and provide an alternative seating option for the students,” she told ABC News. “I was excited that this chair could be beneficial for my students.”
The chairs are currently stationed in the schools recently created sensory room, said Principal Beth Kiewicz.
“When a child’s sensory needs are met that allows us to move on to their academic needs,” Kiewicz told ABC News. “You have to look at the whole child — socially, emotionally and academically. That’s why we’re here.”
The chairs have already made a different for some of Maplethorpe’s students, making them “more patient” and better able to follow directions, she said.
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