Stability Ball...a Balance Ball...in Luka's IEP they call it a therapy ball. It doesn't matter the name, the purpose is the same. It's meant to increase focus in children who have a disorder, like ADHD , or have a strong need to fidget or are not able to sit still for long, particularly in school. Last year, we used a stability ball as well as a standing desk (with a fidget bar) and that worked really well. This year, we are only using a stability ball and I talked about why in this post.
Kids need to move and as explained so well in this article from Gaiam, children with ADHD or a sensory processing disorder need to move in order for their brains to function and process properly. Particularly with these children, their moving allows for their brains to take in more information. A stability ball or other means of fidgeting provides a mind/body connection which increases attention.
So if you feel like your child would benefit from a stability ball, I am going to give you a few tips based on my experience:
1. Get A Stability Ball With Legs
Also known as a ball chair, the legs (or mount) prevents the ball from rolling or your child rolling off of it...and having some way to stabilize the ball makes a big difference.
When Luka's school just used a yoga ball, or a balance ball without legs, Luka was constantly rolling around on it. He would bounce it between the aisles or in other ways play with it. He also, got it taken away a few times. A stability ball with legs prevents this. You can get a couple of different types of ball chairs but this is the one I got for my son. We got it for him when he was 9 and we've had it for years. It still works great and it won't rupture (really important). I will say, make sure the ball fits your child's size and that they can easily keep their feet on the ground when they sit on it.
2. Consider Getting A Mat
A little while back I wrote about troubles we were having with the stability ball in Luka's new classroom. It had to do primarily with the sound the ball was making as he bounced. Depending on your classroom and it's floor type...you may or may not have this problem. But if you do, it may be considered disturbing to other students or the teacher.
A repetitive annoying sound is hard for a lot of people to tune out. So if you are dealing with this problem in your child's classroom, consider getting a mat. It doesn't have to be large and should fit perfectly under your child's stability ball. It can also help to keep the ball from rolling as your child bounces on it. We used a memory foam bath mat and it works great!
3. Know Your Rights
Your school may be able to provide you with a stability ball if they feel that your child needs it. Or, if you ask for it. Consider giving it a try. Some schools don't necessarily need you to put it in the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) to provide it for you. But, if a stability ball (or therapy ball) does help your child, I do strongly suggest you get it put INTO the IEP for the future.
What is put into an IEP must be followed according to law and if it is something that can help your child it's best to have your ground covered. Now, your school may or may not require that your child get tested before creating an IEP (that is going to depend on your school) but either way...that isn't a bad thing. Getting your child tested can open up the door for more help in the future.
If you want me to talk more about IEP's or getting your child tested, let me know in the comments below and I would be happy to write a blog post on this in the future.