The Standing Desk

Special Ed.The Standing Desk: A Variation on Two Choices Technique

Molly was in my Special Ed. class. She, like most of the students in that class, was autistic. She also suffered from a neuromuscular disease that left her wheelchair bound. Part of her IEP (Individualized Education Program) was that she was to spend a few minutes of each day in a contraption called a ‘standing desk’. 

It was good for her but she didn’t like it.

This was no ordinary standing desk. It was a special orthopedic device for those who could not support their own body weight. It had an adjustable back or lumbar support like a regular chair but she didn’t sit in it – she had to stand. And there was a board that locked over her knees to keep them from buckling. The purpose of the standing desk was to help her to stand while studying so she could build up her bones and muscles. Call it, twenty minutes of isometric exercise in a device that looked like a leftover from the Spanish Inquisition. 

This independent lady destroyed a garden!

Now despite the handicaps of autism and being wheelchair bound, Molly was a very independent little lady and following rules was not her usual modus operandi. Once while we were out in the school garden she disobeyed my direct instruction to ‘stay put’ and she drove her wheelchair over a garden planted by another class, destroying it!

So, you can bet she tested my powers of persuasion when it came time for her to use the standing desk. She was resistant. I said, “Gee Molly, you know you’re supposed to spend at least twenty minutes a day in the standing desk. It’s supposed to help you. Are you really going to force me to put you in there? I know you’re tough. I remember how you destroyed that garden. Let me see you make a muscle.” She flashed a bicep curl and a smile.

Two Choices Technique

“So the way I see it Molly, you’ve got two choices. Are you really going to make me force you into that standing desk? Or, are you tough enough to be cool and let me help you get into it and then show me how long you can study while standing? I bet you can do 10 minutes easy. Are you tough enough for 15?”

My teacher’s aide and I struggled to get Molly into the desk only because she was dead weight. Then we began a math lesson and with a smile on her face, Molly put in the full 20 minutes in the standing desk. Two Choices Technique changed her view of an odious exercise and created a source of great pride and accomplishment for both of us.

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