Illinois teacher makes tennis ball chair to help students with autism

ROUND LAKE BEACH, Ill. — An Illinois teacher got creative to help her students with autism.

Amy Maplethorpe, who is in the Speech and Language Department at Raymond Ellis Elementary School, made chairs with tennis balls to help students who might have “difficulty processing information from their senses and from the world around them,” a Facebook post by the school said.

The school said the tennis balls on the seat and backrest provide an alternative texture to improve sensory regulation.

Students with autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome and sensory processing disorder might benefit from the seats, according to the school.

After the post went viral with more than 90,000 shares, the school provided instructions on how to make the chairs to help students.

Materials: A chair, one-half tennis balls, fabric, modge podge, paintbrush/paint sponge, and hot glue.

Directions: Take a chair and modge podge the seat and backrest, then place fabric over it. Modge podge over the fabric and wait for it to dry, which takes approximately 20-30 minutes. Then, hot glue tennis balls cut in half to the seat and backrest. When that dries, hot glue the excess fabric underneath the seat and behind the backrest to give it an “upholstered” look. It might also be helpful to hot glue around the tennis balls one more time for an extra hold. And with that, the chairs are done.