Monthly Archives: March 2021

Why Using a Chair Correctly is SO Difficult for Hypermobile Kids and Adults

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I spend a fair amount of time teaching hypermobile people of all ages how their sitting position affects their ability to write, keyboard, or do just about anything.  And of course, we want hypermobile people to have a stronger core while sitting.  But their chair can help them.  It is not a crutch.

Yup.  Use the chair.  Correctly.

Understanding how to use the back support of the chair correctly is fairly simple, but really hard for hypermobile people to do.  The reason it is so challenging has very little to do with being obstinate, forgetful, or in denial.

It has a lot to do with sensory processing and old habits (even for kids).

  • Hypermobility reduces sensory feedback from joints and muscles.  This makes it harder to pay attention to posture while sitting.  It is the equivalent of writing while wearing mittens.
  • Less sensory feedback frequently results in unconscious strategies to boost feedback.  Wrapping legs around the chair’s legs.  Leaning forward and resting the head on the palms.  Folding one leg under the body while sitting.  They do increase proprioception.  They also put the spine out of alignment and reduce the use of core stabilizers.
  • From the moment a hypermobile person is born, they come up with compensatory strategies.  Leaning.  Twisting.  Slumping.  Getting up for no good reason, over and over.  This means habits are formed before they know how to walk.  By the time they get to school, they are simply “The way I am”.  And hard to break.

If you or your child are hypermobile, there are a few hacks that work:

  1. Practice.  Even for a few minutes.
  2. Write a note on the table or screen in front of you.
  3. Make sure the chair is a good one.
  4. Accept that fatigue destroys the best intentions.  Allow movement breaks.
  5. Get rid of the old idea that depending on the chair indicates poor postural control.  Use the chair to perform the task.  You can exercise later.  This is not the time to exercise.

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Toddler Whining, Not Playing? Try Showing Them a Good Time

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Toddlers are notorious for requesting a toy and then fussing about it.  They aren’t being manipulative.  They are being toddlers.  Sometimes they can’t decide what to do with the toy (build a tower, build a house, etc.) and sometimes they find receiving a toy isn’t instant joy, but they expected it anyway (toddlers are rather like movie stars that way…)

Assuming that whining means they don’t want that toy, many parents become short-order playmates, dragging out everything but the kitchen sink to see if it pleases majesty.  This almost always increases, not decreases, whining.  For an explanation, see the above paragraph.

What can a parent do when their toddler gets what they want and then begins to whine?

Well, if your child isn’t hungry, in need of a diaper, exhausted, or ill…..

Start playing with it yourself.

That’s right.  DO NOT INVITE THE CHILD TO JOIN YOU.  NOT YET.

Play happily, but not with crazy abandon.  No need to go nuts.  But play with the toy in the manner in which you would expect your child to be able to play.  This means build a tower, not a replica of London Bridge.  Feed the baby doll, don’t teach it Spanish verbs.  Squish the Play-Doh, don’t make a coiled pot.

Very young children often jump right in, now that they have a clearer idea of what to do, and someone to do it with.  Wait for them to indicate that they are interested, and offer the toy without a lot of words.  If the toy gets tossed and a big grin spreads over your toddler’s face, you know they are baiting you.  They are drawing a line in the sand.  But if they play nicely, respond with smiles and even a hug.  This is the fun part of parenting, and you just hit a home run!

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