Beanbags – Sensory Integration Therapy (Autism)

Many therapists use sensory beanbags in different ways to help people on the autism spectrum cope with sensory processing issues.  Many individuals affected by autism have neurological issues that affect their ability to process and organize sensory information. They may experience delays in acknowledging what they see, hear or feel, or they may feel sensory input more or less intensely than neurotypical people. This can be very unsettling, and may trigger upset, restlessness and even anxiety in an autistic person. Sensory beanbags are a safe, gentle way to help a person with autism organize their sensory input and have a greater awareness of their bodies in their immediate surroundings. Many  therapists use sensory beanbags as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for sensory integration issues in autistic kids.

As seating, sensory beanbags provide immediate sensory feedback to the child about every subtle shift in his movements. The child can feel the countless small polystyrene beeds  adjusting beneath the inner lining and beanbag cover.  He can sink into the generous stretchy materials and allow the beanbag to occupy all the negative spaces around his body.   It allows him to sit in the most comfortable position whilst at the same time leaving freedom for his body to move any way it wants.  This beanbag creates a form for his body rather than the body trying to find a form as in the case with other stiffer beanbags.  This can help a child learn more about his body’s responses and how to better monitor what feels comfortable to him and what doesn’t.  Learning to pay attention to his body’s sensory cues is an important part of helping a child cope with sensory processing issues. Children can easily take sensory beanbags with them from room to room.

Many children on the autism spectrum who also struggle with sensory processing difficulties benefit from deep sensory pressure massage and feeling weighted objects around their torsos.  Sensory beanbags are an inexpensive option for providing this purpose. Placing a child on a beanbag, and then placing a second bean bag over the child’s torso is a safe method to provide some weighted pressure evenly distributed across the torso. Many autistic children find this extremely relaxing and comforting.

Sensory beanbags are a safe, gentle option for physical therapy that must involve gentle weight-lifting to improve coordination and muscle tone, both common problems for young children on the spectrum. Children can lift the chairs easily with little coordination necessary, and a dropped bean bag chair, unlike a traditional weight set, won’t cause any injury or damage. To build resistance a child can pull or drag the beanbag by linking his body to the handle and then pulling it as in like a horse and cart.