BEEKMANTOWN - Take one wooden plank, a wooden dowel and voil - you've got a seat designed to help a child's posture and increase attention span.
Tani Bingham, an occupational therapist at Beekmantown Elementary School, has been utilizing "T-stools" to help students do just that. The simple devices, which Bingham described as a "one-legged stool," help the students by strengthening core muscles which can sometimes go unexercised as infants.
Children today aren't placed on their stomachs during their younger years as much as they once were, Bingham explained, theorizing it has much to do with the danger of sudden infant death syndrome, more commonly known as SIDS.
"Unfortunately, that is a very important developmental stage that increases those core muscles and prepares the child for sitting and anything core-related," said Bingham.
Children with weaker core muscles tend later to have difficulty maintaining proper posture while seated, leading them to slouch in their seat or "slump" over their desk, she said.
"What a T-stool does, because of the way you have to sit on it, is it constantly fires those core muscles. You have to sit up straight to stay balanced," Bingham explained. "Basically, it's like a little workout and it's increasing muscle strength."
As the muscles are exercised, electrical signals are sent to the brain, making the student more alert. This can be extremely beneficial for students diagnosed with conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, more commonly known as ADHD, though can be useful in helping a student with mild attention problems, said Bingham.
"It's like magic because a child that couldn't attend before is all of a sudden attending," she said. "The constant electrical impulses going off in their brain are waking them up."
When Bingham first started utilizing the T-stools for occupational therapy, she didn't have many at all.