Exercise/balance discs have a dual use. They can be used for sitting to give you the same benefits as sitting on an exercise ball, like better sitting posture. They are also used in exercise to provide an unstable surface, forcing you to use more muscles to remain balanced thus getting a more complete workout. Originally designed for exercise and posture purposes, occupational therapists, teachers, and parents of special needs children have found that they help children with sensory needs as well.
It has been researched and proven that children with attention disorders like ADHD squirm, chew and fidget because the stimulation of the extra movements helps them focus and pay attention. I know it sounds completely backwards and bizarre but it is true, fidgeting and even doodling help with focus. The balance cushion (disc-o-sit is a well-known name brand) forces you to use more muscles to remain balanced. These slight but consistent movements serve as fidgets and help many children to sit more still in their seat and stay more focused.
We finally received our balance cushions yesterday. After reading so much about the posture improvement and strengthening of core muscles even when sitting still, I ordered an extra one for myself to keep at my desk chair (I was able to find some for just $13 each and that allowed me to get an extra one).
The kind Fed-Ex man came to my door with them around 9 am yesterday morning. The anticipation after reading so much about them for the past couple months drove me to open them right up. I began sitting on mine at my computer at once. It took about 20 minutes or so to get it placed just in the right spot on the seat of the chair (I have very short legs) and get the height other chair readjusted and to just acclimate to sitting this way. Once I got back on task and left the chair and cushion alone, it was no time at all before I felt my back muscles tighten. In fact, within a couple hours I had to stop using the cushion. My neck was incredibly stiff. I was concentrating far too much on the cushion and tensed up I thought. I decided to take a break from it for the day and try again a couple hours a day until I was used to it. I have been on it in front of the computer for about 40 minutes this morning and my neck and back are tight already. I am feeling it a bit in my abdominals today too. I am loving the effects on my mid-section (boy could I use it) but I am disappointed about the stiff neck. I get tension headaches in my neck that feel just like this and the only thing to make the discomfort subside is to stop thinking about it and the only way to stop thinking about it is to go to sleep and that's not an option. I am disappointed but I am not giving up on it yet.
The kids, of course, thought of them as new toys. They immediately needed to sit on them and carried them around the house all evening to sit on them no matter where they were. I tried to explain that they were meant for chairs at the table or desk but it fell on deaf ears. Luke even wanted to take his to bed and sleep on it. I had to put my foot down.
They sat on them at the dinner table. Emma definitely sat more still and properly. I didn't have to tell her to put her legs down or sit up in the chair once. As for Luke, he still managed to stand on his head in the chair at the dinner table. There may have been a tiny bit of improvement but not enough yet to call it a success. They both went to school this morning, balance discs in tow. We'll see what kind of feedback we get from their teachers. Emma is getting called out several times every day now for not sitting still at her desk, I am hoping this will alleviate that. She is embarrassed by it and feels like she is in trouble (she is mortified to be in trouble with anyone but her family). She has been called out for not focusing on assignments in class too the last couple weeks. I am hoping it will help with that.
I don't know if I've mentioned it here before, but I am pretty certain at this point that Emma is also ADHD. She is gifted and so she hasn't struggled in school. Now that expectations of organization and accountability are so much higher in fourth grade, she has begun to struggle. She is starting to struggle socially too (she talks literally non-stop and tends to obsess about things until she runs them into the ground). Her anxiety and stress levels seem to have quadrupled this school year too. We already use behavior modification techniques in our home. Her grades are still acceptable ("A"s and "B"s). I think the only way to help her with classroom fidget and focus is to have a formal diagnosis and get a 504 Plan with accommodations or to have her on medication too. I think socially, since it's a motor-mouth issue, the only real source of relief would be medication. I get sick to my stomach thinking about both of my children on ADHD meds. Obviously I am very okay with ADHD medications. But somehow I feel like if both my children are ADHD, maybe it's not ADHD at all and I am just seeing things in her because I want some explanation for her struggles. Oy! I am paying careful attention to her and we'll see how thins progress. Of course, I will have her evaluated and treated if it turns out to be necessary.
If you want to purchase your own balance disc/cushion,click here. This is not the brand I purchased but I can't add that brand to my Amazon store for some reason. Once you click this link look at the similar products and you will see the Isokinetics brand, that's the one we purchased.
Anyone out there using this product already? How is it working?