Illinois teacher creates tennis ball chair to help students with autism

(Raymond Ellis Elementary School)

ROUND LAKE BEACH, Ill. (WATE) – A teacher in Illinois got creative in order to help her students.

Amy Maplethorpe is a first-year speech-language pathologist at Raymond Ellis Elementary School. She created a chair to help her students with sensory issues.

According to autism advocacy organization Autism Speaks, children with autism often have a hard time “processing sensory information.” Items, such as vests, blankets and Maplethorpe’s chair, often soothe a student, according to Autism Speaks, which has a list of similar items on its website.

Because many people on the autism spectrum have difficulty processing everyday sensory information, they can sometimes experience sensory overload. Too much information can cause stress, anxiety, and possibly physical pain.

Maplethorpe cut tennis balls in half and hot glued them to fabric, then attached the fabric to the backrest and seat of a chair. She said she came up with the idea after seeing a similar item on Pinterest.

“I wanted to continue to address the various sensory needs present at Ellis and provide an alternative seating option for the students,” Maplethorpe told ABC News. “I was excited that this chair could be beneficial for my students.”

The teacher says the chairs are already helping her students. While using the chair, she said her students have become more patient and not as restless while waiting for activities.


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