Therapy Balls for Seating

The Strategy

Therapy balls for seating allow a child to use a flexible stability ball as a seat rather than a traditional desk chair. In theory, this strategy is aimed at reducing disruptive or off-task behavior by providing students with a less disruptive way to release their energy or tension. The hope is that by providing an appropriate means of releasing this energy, the student will be better able to focus and improve their academic performance.  However, this strategy will not provide the student with skills that allow them to meet typical classroom expectations. Thus, this strategy should be used in conjunction with other strategies (note taking intervention; self-monitoring; daily report card; student choice) that facilitate skill development. 

  1. Identify periods of the day that the student has difficulty remaining on task or exhibits signs of restlessness (e.g., fidgeting; getting out of their seat often).
  2. Review the expectations for the student when sitting on a stability ball in the classroom (e.g., feet remain on the ground, bottom of the ball remains on the floor). Discuss the consequence for inappropriate behavior, including the ball being popped.
  3. Provide the student the opportunity to use this alternate seating during difficult class periods. Provide feedback for appropriate/inappropriate behavior.
  4. Use Beacon progress monitoring tools to evaluate the extent to which this strategy is improving the target behaviors as intended.

  • Consider student safety: ensure that the stability ball is the appropriate size for the student (knees bent at a 90-degree angle with thighs parallel to the floor), and is located in an accessible and safe area.
  • You may need to explain to other students why this student is allowed to sit on a stability ball rather than a regular classroom chair. Teachers can talk to their class about how all students learn in different ways and may need different things to maximize success.
  • Consider communicating with parents about your use of stability balls and the rationale for their use.
  • If the student is becoming more distracted by the ball or by peers’ reactions to it, the strategy may not be the best option. Continue to monitor progress as you implement this change and adjust accordingly.

Because therapy balls, stability balls, and wobble cushions do not effectively build skills students need to independently meet age-appropriate expectations, they cannot be evaluated for effectiveness. The intended goal of using stability balls is to give a student an outlet for their energy that is not disruptive to the class. However, there is evidence that suggest that the use of some of these tools may actually worsen the problem it is intended to help. Specifically, these items can provide additional distractions for the targeted student as well as their peers. Given that it is unlikely to be helpful and may be harmful, these strategies are discouraged.

Intervention Scorecard

This intervention is recommended for the following presenting problems.

Select an age group:


Other suitable presenting problems