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How to make a difference to a child’s access to learning and participation through the recommendation of specialist seating

A child with Down Syndrome who Paige supports has made significant progress in her classroom engagement thanks to the implementation of supportive seating.

As an occupational therapist, the focus is on helping children to participate in the activities that are important to them. This includes everything from self-care tasks, such as dressing and eating,  play and leisure activities, schoolwork and other academic tasks. When working with a child, our approach is holistic, considering not only the child’s physical abilities, but also their cognitive, social, and emotional needs.

Children with Down Syndrome often present with reduced core strength, which can make it difficult for them to sit and engage in table-based activities for extended periods of time leading to feelings of frustration and isolation .

To address this, it was imperative that the child be provided with supportive specialist seating. This type of seating can help to provide the necessary support for the child’s back and trunk, allowing them to sit up straight and participate in activities comfortably.

To ensure the right seating for the child, Paige conducted an assessment of the child’s needs to identify the best type of seating for them. This included observing the child during various activities, such as sitting at a table and participating in classroom activities, as well as assessing their muscle tone and range of motion. Based on this assessment, it was clear what the right chair would be;  a seating cushion with a built-in support system.

After arranging for the child to be provided with this specialist seating a remarkable improvement in her ability to sit and engage in table-based activities for longer periods of time has been observed. She now sits for 30 minutes, happily engaging in activities, where previously her engagement was fleeting. Not only has this had a positive impact on her academic progress, but it has also greatly improved her well-being and inclusion in the school environment. The child is now a lot happier and smiles a lot more when engaging in tabletop activities.

This story is a reminder of the importance of supportive seating for children with reduced muscle tone and the positive impact it can have on their academic and social success. Paige is grateful for the opportunity that she has had in making a difference in this child’s life, and she looks forward to continuing to support their journey ahead.