Review from Keira Keogh - Behaviour Consultant
We recently sat down with Keira Keogh, a Behavior Consultant based in Westport, Co Mayo to discuss her experiences in using our Elephant Jumbo in her practice, she bought her first Elephant Jumbo bean bag from us 4 years ago.
The Jumbo Elephant Bean Bag - Easily the most used item in my playroom!
As a behaviour consultant, I work mainly with children who have additional needs for example children on the Autism Spectrum, or children who are struggling with challenges as a result of sensory processing disorder, ADHD and other diagnoses. More and more, I am also seeing neurotypical kids who are struggling with anxiety and/or behavioural challenges.
In almost every session, my Jumbo Elephant Bean Bag features. Read on to find out some of the ways it gets used and why I couldn’t go one day without this bean bag at work.
Often when I am working on ‘sitting for circle time/ story time’, we go on to the bean bag. Sitting in a group and listening to story time/lesson time can be really hard in play school or primary school, so the more practice I can give 1:1 the better. For kids that find it hard to sit, the bean bag is a great way for them to lay or sit back into the bean bag and it hugs tight around them helping them to stay calm and attentive while we read.
One of my super stars - Joseph who has been coming to me for a number of years has the same routine every time he arrives. First, he takes off his coat, and then he takes off his shoes and then he goes straight to the bean bag. He loves to fall into it and with a giant slinky in his hands, he likes to relax here for 5 minutes before we get started with our session. As we move through the session Joseph gets lots of little breaks with youtube as a reward for tasks or games completed. You can see from the picture just how much he loves the Jumbo Bean Bag.
Safety & Calming:
For any of my kiddos who struggle with meltdowns, I always recommend their parents to buy a big bean bag and for me, I will always have it close to hand if there is a possibility of a difficult tantrum or meltdown or even if a child is just feeling a little overwhelmed and needs a little break. A big bean bag can be a life saver at helping you to keep a child safe during a meltdown. When experiencing a meltdown a child often can’t tolerate people near them and is often not aware of their safety so being able to direct them to a bean bag and back away until they’re calm is a great strategy. Also, when the meltdown passses the child can be totally exhausted so having a drink and taking another few moments in the bean bag can be a great way to help them to feel fully regulated.
A seat that is almost a cradle:
The Jumbo Bean Bag played a huge role for one of my kiddos when he came to me first. He had no concept of how to relax and was always on the move, only stopping to sleep for a few hours and then on the go again. To get him to eat or drink, his parents had to cradle him in their arms and rock him while he drank a bottle. Very slowly, we were able to get him to drink the bottle in the bean bag with mum beside him and then faded Mum away bit by bit and added in toys or sensory objects. This was huge for that family and he quickly transferred his new sitting and relaxing skill to lying on the couch or looking at books on the bean bag freeing up his parents to get a lot more done or even enjoy a cup of tea.
I am always trying to encourage independence and that also goes for teaching children to understand when they need to take a break to get some deep pressure or burn off some energy. I often use visual supports to help this but one of my little kiddos caught on super quick to just asking for squeezes and when I say yes he launches himself from the desk into the middle of the bean bag and lies there happily for me to squish him like a sausage in a sausage roll. After a couple of minutes he returns to work or play and is always feeling much better in himself.
By far the most fun way the bean bag is used is for crashing and this is where I can say I have tested it's resilience. I have big and small kids who like to jump on the trampoline and crash into the bean bag, or get rocked by an adult and thrown into the bean bag and I have another few kids who will go on the scooter board or ride-on car and crash into it at full speed. Lots of the kiddos have high energy and the crashing after all the movement can help to keep them regulated. (check out Aoife at Occupational Therapy ABC for her posts on understanding the sensory system)
When the kids go home, I often use it to read outside on the rare days when the weather is good enough. It is also great in the sitting room as an extra seat to watch TV, During Christmas of 2018 when I was very ill, it was thrown in the car so that I could nap between courses of Christmas Dinner, I think you probably get the idea now as to why I don’t go one day without using my Jumbo Elephant Bean Bag.
After almost four years of abuse, it's time for me to say goodbye to my navy jumbo and add the Belle. I was leaning towards a more neutral colour, but one of the kiddos who comes to see me has insisted the one with daisies is the best option and you know what, who doesn’t need a pop of colour in their life!
She finished her session by saying she is excited to see the new bean bag, but she will miss the old one.