Sitting in the autism classroom

Sitting in the autism classroom

Sitting is a gross motor skill.  Sadly, not one that we think of when we talk about gross motor skills development.  Sitting or maintaining a seated position for a long period of time can be very difficult for a child on the autism spectrum.  The reasons behind this could be one or a combination of the following reasons:

  • Children on the autism spectrum often have trouble tolerating sedentary activities and sitting is a prime example of a sedentary activity
  • Children with autism may find it more difficult to develop sitting tolerance due to sensory processing issues
  • A social skills deficit of delay can also be behind the need to move continues
  • Many children on the autism spectrum have shown a weakness in the core muscles of their stomach and back areas which can impact their ability to sit for long periods
  • Many children on the spectrum show evidence of poor body awareness which can result in poor posture, wriggling and discomfort when sitting on a chair next to a table for an amount of time
  • Self-regulatory behavior could be why a child with autism runs around – this can be brought on by sensory input and/or when the child feels anxious or nervous in a setting that they are not familiar with

Different situations in life require different reasons to sit still.  In class we sit still to help us get our learning done.  In a dentist chair we sit still because we need to get our teeth worked on and if we don’t sit still during a haircut then we may have a seriously skew hairdo.

Later in life we will need to sit still during meetings, and we will need the ability to sit still during a dinner date or a movie.  Not to mention on a plan or in a car!  So, sitting still is a skill that needs to be taught in the autism classroom and it needs to be taught during early childhood development.  Once a child masters the concept of sitting (on the floor or on a chair) it will lead to generalization to other setting such as toilet training, eating meals, sitting at the table to learn, and even sitting still when travelling in a car.

Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.