Find Out How These DIY Tennis Ball Chairs Are Helping Kids with Autism

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With a little help from Pinterest, one teacher has made a world of difference in the lives of her students with sensory issues.

Amy Maplethorpe is going through her first year of teaching as a Speech and Language Pathologist at Raymond Ellis Elementary School. But don’t look down on her for her young age or lack of experience; she is amazing at her job. You only need to look at the awesome chairs she crafted in order to realize that.

These chairs are covered with tennis ball-halves—an addition, Maplethorpe says, that helps children with autism, Down Syndrome, SPD, and other conditions regulate their sensory input.

The school thought it was so brilliant that they took a picture of Maplethorpe with the chairs she created and posted them on Facebook. Since then, it has gone viral.

And allegedly the chairs are helping at least some students, according to Maplethorpe. “Students have become more patient, have followed directions, and restlessness has decreased while waiting for activities,” she said.

But that’s not all…now you can make your OWN sensory chair for you or your child! Below are the instructions, adapted from the ones provided by the school’s Facebook page.

Full disclosure: I tweaked the steps a teeny bit because I am a crafty person who imagined it’d be easier this other way. Granted, I’m not a hundred percent sure because I have not made the chair myself, and I also understand some of you may want to follow the original instructions to a T. So I pointed out the modifications I made if you want to stick to the original.

Happy crafting!

How to Make a Tennis Ball Chair

Materials

  • Chair
  • Tennis balls, cut in half, enough to cover the chair’s seat and backrest
  • Mod Podge
  • Enough fabric to cover chair’s seat and backrest
  • Hot glue gun (with glue, of course)
  • A paintbrush or paint sponge

Directions

  1. Use paintbrush/paint sponge to spread Mod Podge over the chair’s seat and backrest; cover with fabric.
  2. Tuck the excess fabric under the chair and secure it with hot glue (in the original instructions, this was the last step; if you want to stick to the original instructions, skip this step for now).
  3. Spread Mod Podge over top of the fabric and wait for it to dry (approximately 20-30 minutes)
  4. Spread tennis ball-halves across the seat and backrest and hot glue them down. You might want to glue around them a few times to be sure they stay put!
  5. If you haven’t already, tuck the remaining fabric under the chair and glue it down.
  6. Voila! You’ve got a super-awesome sensory chair!
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A. Stout received a Bachelor of Arts in Writing through Grand Valley State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015. In addition to being a passionate autism advocate, she is a member of various fandoms, a study abroad alumna, and an animal lover. She dreams of publishing novels and traveling all over the world someday.