The project was initiated when Stuart Jackson, a father to a child with autism, sought the help of the students after failing to find a chair that would calm his child down in a therapeutic way.
The chairs, which were modeled after Temple Grandin’s cattle chute concept, intends to fill the void in the market that is the lack of affordable therapy chairs that can help children on the autism spectrum calm down in a therapeutic way. The Temple Grandin chairs currently available in the market costs several thousand dollars and weighs 300 pounds.
The CAPS engineering students devised the new therapy chairs in such a way that would look like any other furniture in a regular home or establishment, and costs under $1,000.
Jackson and the CAPS engineering students came up with two models for the therapy chairs— the Sensory Lounger or green lounger, a chair with a plywood base, high-density foam cushions, and an air pressure pump; and the Sensory Chair— a papasan chair with inflatable air bags and swimming noodles around the edges that served as cushions, and is equipped with a hand-held remote control to regulate the pressure.
The first to try out the therapy chairs were the children under the Timber Creek Elementary LIFT program, a program that caters to children who are on the severe end of the autism spectrum.
The children loved the chairs and the project proved to be a huge success.
Jackson and the engineering students determined that their next step would be getting the chairs into the district’s LIFT program, then into Blue Valley, and eventually— the whole country.
“Our plan is definitely to get them into the Timber Creek Elementary LIFT program, because they’ve been so helpful. Then I’d like to see one in all of the autism-specific programs in Blue Valley. And eventually, I would love to see one in every therapy room in the country.”
Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta
Source: Judy L Thomas on the Bellingham Herald website: Students build chairs that help autistic children