There are times when certain people find it difficult to sit still and concentrate on a specific task. This is very common among children but can also be experienced by adults or older adults who are suffering from cognitive and memory issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a condition that affects how the brain processes sensory information or stimuli. These include things that you see, smell, taste, hear, and touch. The condition may affect all of the senses or just one, and it means an individual can be overly sensitive to stimuli.
Compared to adults, children are more likely to have SPD, but adults may have symptoms, too. These may lead them to lose concentration in the things that they are doing halfway. Without certain sensory touches, people who have SPD may feel lost even in their own safe space. The most mundane activities may feel monumental for them with certain sensory touches.
One of the ways, in order to provide them with these sensory touches is through the use of sensory cushions. If it is your first time hearing or reading about sensory cushions and you would like to learn more about them, we are here to help you. In this post, we are giving you more information about sensory cushions and their benefits.
What are Sensory Cushions?
Sensory cushions are also sometimes referred to as sensory chairs. They are designed to help children and adults who constantly fidget when seated. People who constantly move about in their seats are usually called sensory seekers. As mentioned earlier, they may have SPD, autism, or cognitive issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Most of the time, they are searching for more vestibular sensory input.
Vestibular sensory input pertains to the balance and movement sense of people. This sense, aside from being responsible for our balance, also aids us in staying focused and alert. Some individuals need more vestibular input or movement in order to keep their attention compared to others. For these cases, occupational therapists often suggest the use of sensory seats or cushions.
The main goal of sensory cushions is to help children and adults with their attention. The idea of this sensory tool is to help people get the extra movement they are seeking while keeping them seated and focused on a certain task. The motion that they get from the sensory cushion decreases other distracting or unsafe movements that they may engage in. Sensory cushions aim to allow people to move about in a more appropriate way. Instead of rocking on their chair or moving around a room, the sensory cushion may provide them a way to move about while staying in their seats.
Benefits of Using Sensory Cushions
Sensory cushions can be beneficial for both children and adults with special needs. It is important for these individuals to feel great about their bodies, particularly adults who are suffering from dementia and other health issues. These sensory tools are specially designed to provide sensory stimulation and support for people who have sensory processing difficulties. Below are some of the benefits that they may get from using sensory cushions:
Increased Sitting Time
It is indeed challenging to take care of a child or an adult with special needs, especially if they are always fidgeting and unable to focus on certain tasks for longer periods. But through the use of sensory cushions, you will be able to make them sit a little longer and concentrate on particular tasks. These may help children suffering from ADHD to relieve stress and adults suffering from dementia to find peace in their sitting position and keep their inattention, restlessness, and fidgeting at bay. Aside from these, there are a lot more mental and behavioral disorders that may benefit from sensory cushions, such as Rett syndrome, Tourette’s syndrome, anxiety disorder, and more.
Sensory cushions are also designed to provide comfort and support for people who are finding it challenging to sit or stay in one place for a long period. These cushions provide certain movements and feature different textures that may help them feel more comfortable while focusing on certain activities.
For children, sensory cushions may help them in developing their sense of balance, gross motor skills, and coordination.
Calms the Nervous System
Sensory cushions can also be used to help both children and adults to regulate their sensory input in order to calm their nervous systems. When sensory cushions are used regularly, it may lead them to become more focused and organized. Aside from that, these cushions may also aid with muscle pain and muscle tension, making them great for seniors, as well. Sensory input may assist with the acceleration of safety and self-esteem, which may help your loved one fight anxiety and depression.
Things to Consider When Buying a Sensory Cushion
If you find the benefits of sensory cushions perfect for your loved one and you’ve decided to buy one for them, there are a few considerations that you need to make. It’s because when you search for sensory cushions in stores and online, there are a lot of options to choose from, which can make it challenging to pick the best one that will cater to the needs and preferences of your loved one. To help you, below are some of the important things that you need to consider when buying a sensory cushion:
When choosing a sensory cushion, it is important to pay attention to the materials that are used to create them. You need to be mindful of the sensitivities of your loved one. Always pick a sensory cushion that is made of materials that you know could calm them down and those that have a soothing effect on them. Avoid picking those that have hard and abrasive materials like denim, no matter how good they look.
In addition to the materials used, the construction of the sensory cushion is also important. Consider how it is put together, such as if it has zippers or Velcro closures or if it is sewn. This way, you will be able to check the durability and washability of the sensory cushion.
It is also essential to know whether or not the sensory cushion is washable. This will also help you decide whether to buy it or not. Try to check if it is also machine-washable or can only be hand-washed. This is an important factor to consider, as your loved one may spill or drool over the cushion. In case it is not washable, it should have a waterproof layer or cover for easy cleaning.
Level of Vibration
There are available sensory cushions that feature vibration. If you are going to buy this type of cushion, you need to check the level of vibration that it offers. If your loved one is extra-sensitive, it is best to pick one with low vibration or adjustable vibration.
Different Types of Sensory Cushions
Sensory cushions come in different types, and each of them offers different uses for both children and adults. To help you in choosing the best one that will cater to the needs of your loved one, below are the different types of sensory cushions and a few product examples:
Wobble Sensory Cushions
These are sometimes referred to as disc cushions or instability cushions. They are small round inflatable cushions that are strong enough to sit or stand on. When sat on, it creates instability or a wobble, which encourages the user to engage their back and core muscles. Wobble cushions can be used on chairs and on the floor. Using them feels similar to sitting on a therapy ball. The wobble effect that they make makes sensory-seeking individuals focus on how they sit, reduces fidgeting, and helps improve focus on the task they have in hand. Below are some examples of wobble cushions to help you choose:
Trideer Inflated Wobble Cushion: This wobble cushion allows both kids and adults to sit still for long periods. It also prevents them from sitting in the same posture all the time, which helps relieve back pain and improve posture. It can also be used for exercises as it can help strengthen your core muscles and improve your balance and coordination.
Gaiam Balance Disc Wobble Cushion: This wobble cushion can be placed on any chair to add instability. It is perfect for active kids and adults to help them remain seated and focus on the tasks they are working on. It also works as a great meditation seat for both kids and adults.
Wedge Sensory Cushions
Wedge cushions are air-filled, and they tilt the pelvis forward a bit when sat on. These cushions enhance the inward curve of the lower back and encourage the user to sit more upright. It is a beneficial type of sensory cushion for children and adults who shift around or rock in their seats. They can be inflated as much or as little as needed so the user can sit comfortably on them. Most of them also have raised dimples on the surface for tactile input. If this is not needed, it can be turned over. Below are some examples of wedge sensory cushions to help you pick:
CanDo Sitting Wedge Active Seat: This is an inflatable seating cushion that can be used to relieve back pain, stress, restlessness, and anxiety and help improve sitting posture. It is dual-sided as one side is textured for a gentle massage, while the other side is smooth for ultimate comfort.
WALIKI Sitting Wedge Cushion: This cushion helps in allowing children to release their extra energy and strengthen their core at the same time. It is perfect for children who are 3 to 8 years old. You can also adjust its inflation depending on your child’s comfort and preference.
Vibrating Sensory Cushions
For some people, vibration can also provide therapeutic benefits. Vibrating sensory cushions are those that contain small motors that create gentle vibrations, which can be soothing and calming for some children and adults. But as mentioned earlier, before you buy one of these, it is better to check how strong the vibration is and pick one that will feel comfortable for your loved one. Below are a few examples of vibrating sensory cushions to help you choose:
Special Needs Essentials Vibrating FocusPad Seat: This cushion is designed to provide relaxation, calm the nerves, and soothe the body through gentle vibrations. It is a sensory pillow that may help children and adults stay focused and keep them engaged. It provides tactile inputs that can be therapeutic for sensory seekers. It comes with a cloth cover that is washable for easy cleaning and maintenance.
Fun and Function Sensory Vibrating Lap Cushion: This sensory cushion provides gentle and soft bumps and soothing vibrations that may help build tolerance in sensory avoiders. It can be placed on the lap, back, or stomach for individuals to enjoy sensory input. It can be used while working on specific tasks to promote focus or in a room to help children or adults calm down during uncomfortable scenarios.
Special Supplies Vibrating Pillow Sensory Pressure Activated: This is an innovative and calming cushion that is made to soothe stress and anxiety and promote relaxation. It has a battery-powered core that vibrates gently to give children and adults a huggable feel. The cushion is covered with a soft, breathable, velvet-style fabric that is gentle on sensitive skin. It can be used while sitting on the couch, resting in the bed, sitting in the car, or keeping on the lap while sitting in a wheelchair.
Sensory cushions are indeed perfect for both children and adults who find it challenging to stay still and concentrate on tasks at hand. They can help fidgeting individuals calm down and relax, making them great for people who have developmental disabilities and behavioral problems. While there are a lot of sensory cushions to choose from in the market today, it is always important to determine the needs and preferences of your loved one in order to find the best one that is suitable for them. We hope this post helped you learn more about the benefits of using sensory cushions.
 Rice, A. (2020, August 31). Sensory processing disorder (SPD). familydoctor.org. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://familydoctor.org/condition/sensory-processing-disorder-spd
 GriffinOT, E. (2021, November 17). Sensory seating – why is there a wobble cushion in my classroom? GriffinOT. Retrieved February 9, 2023, from https://www.griffinot.com/sensory-seating-seeker/