Introduction: One Leg Therapy Stool Autism

Picture of One Leg Therapy Stool Autism

My son has occupational therapy and they have been using a one leg stool to help him with his self regulation. He has high functioning Autism.  It seems to help him with his focus. He used to spend a bunch of time fidgeting while doing homework. Great tool.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

1. Thrift store pair of crutches $3 (kid size for this project)

2. 1/2" pipe flanges (2 since I did 2 stools. I figured I would never use the other crutch otherwise)

3. 1/2" pipe threaded both ends (cut in half for 2)

4. #12 wood screws (I bought 1" but should have got 3/4". I had to cut them down) or carriage bolts.

5. #8 self tap sheet metal screws. Or you can drill through and use a nut and bolt.

6. 3/4" birch plywood. This is the nice stuff used for making cabinets. Any piece of sturdy wood would probably work just fine.

Step 2: Tools

Picture of Tools

1. Clear polyurethane (or paint or stain or just leave it unfinished) and Brush

2. Sabre saw and Hacksaw

3. Router (or file). Router not shown, I had already put it away and was too lazy to take it back out. You know what they look like anyway.

4. Drill and assorted bits

5. Sand paper

Step 3: Material Prep and Assembly

Picture of Material Prep and Assembly

1. Drill out the rivets in the crutches. This will allow you to remove just the adjustable foot portion. If you need a shorter stool this would be the time to cut down the length of the stool leg (my son is pretty tall and I used kids crutches so no cutting for me).

2. Cut seat plywood into circle. I used 12" across but you could adjust based on your comfort. Note: We have two stools in our household one kids and one adult both use a 12" diameter.

3. Router edge to nice profile or file to smooth edge. For that matter you could upholster it I suppose.

4. Finish the wood. I used clear polyurethane but you could also stain or paint it. I also did some light sanding between coats to get a nice durable finish. I used the satin for a furniture grade appearance.

5. Assemble the pipe and flange. Simple just thread them together. I would suggest very tightly. My sons are capable of taking anything apart, so mine are gorilla tight.

6. Pre-drill and assemble pipe to crutch leg and flange to seat. I used self taping screw on all 4 sides. You could also through drill and put a bolt and nut. I thought the tech screw approach would be plenty strong and a clean look. Note: Make sure you offset the holes or the tips of the screws will interfere inside.

7. Adjust to comfortable height and start using.


royalsfan2015 (author)2017-09-11


This looks like a great project! But can you give me some more detail on the threaded pipe? Thanks!

Sorry for the slow response. It will depend on the size of your crutches. Take them in to the hardware store and start matching them up.


MollieV (author)2015-11-13

I use the t stool alot in therapy. The one that bounces is really beneficial. Gives a slight bounce when you need it, like a therapy ball, but you have to maintain balance too. Call a Togo.

ILikePizzaItsDelish (author)2015-06-25

I'm sorry if this is rude, but how does it help them stop fidgeting?

The nature of the stool requires them to use some additional concentration otherwise they fall off. My experience has seen success with adding heavy work to boring routines or attention specific steps.

JenerKanadier (author)2012-10-23

I love this! My eldest son (7 y.o.) has Autism and I can definitely see how he could benefit from this Instructable (provided he doesn't use it to knock his siblings over the head). :) Congratulations, sir! You earned it!

kaylaangelkisses (author)2012-06-24

THANKS SO MUCH! My little brother has autism and I bet he would love this! Mabey some day me and my other little brother could make this as a B-day present.

I rember my brother while he was doing his home work at the kitchen counter, I was eating(I am 4 years older than him so I do my homework right when I get home) and he would jump up yelling. I belive this is a normal action. He loves odd chairs (I have a egg chair that I let him sit in) so again he would love this!

It is not that hard of a project. He may like it. All 3 of my kids like these stools. And yes the jumping and yelling are par for the course in our house too.

Londonbrig0 (author)2012-01-05

Do you think this would help with pain from slouching in a normal chair all day? I'm looking for a cheap alternative to those ergonomic kneeling chairs, and I think this has potential.

Actually yes. This would be similar to the ergo ball type seats. It will force your core to get more strong. It may not be viable for all day use but worth a try.

JasminGul (author)2012-02-01

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Tape-structable (author)2010-10-27

Interesting and great approach. Good use of the crutch leg.

I'm wondering, does the thought of staying balanced keep you focused? Or is it that you can't put both legs up, or you would fall?

Awesome, but it looks like a hassle to store. Ideally it would go upside down, but with that one leg protruding, its kind of awkward. How are you keeping this when not in use?

craftyv (author)Tape-structable2011-12-23

I know from experience that any inconvenience caused by equipment/toys and other items fades into insignificance when the child is "engaging" in some activity. It is vital that the activity is repeated as often as possible, without trying to use the old ploy "It's good for you" any child who needs constant involvement does not and probably never will "get It". Use the leg-stool for any sit down activity. Try another item. Twirling. please try anything and everything. Merry Christmas to you 2011

All of the above. The balance required not only makes you use your core strength but it puts other parts of your brain in action. An added benefit is if he decides to mess around or not stay focused he tips over.

Storage is the same as his old chair, we just slide it under the desk (upside down of course).

I'm not even autistic and this would help. :-) A little distraction can work wonders for concentration.

Great build!

Not only that but if you lose that concentration you fall. I like to use a balance ball when I am tired and working on the computer.

jasybella12 (author)2011-12-19

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craftyv (author)2011-01-08

Has anybody tried this yet? I mean of those who commented and liked it before christmas.
NOTE: None of these activities work in isolation so please don't expect an instant improvement. The brain requires a repeat activity in order for any changes to occur and when this is compounded by "other" activities" will have a profound effect. I also recommend that you don't treat it as "therapy" rather as just something that you do in your world (family). May I also recommend something physical such as swimming, jogging, gymnastics, dance, and so on. Not a team sport and most definitaly NOT for competition. Simply movement and activity no matter how limited and/ or short term will have a cumulative effect. I am happy to answer any questions on these matters, so good luck. NOTE: As a private person with a great deal of experience in these matters.

Thanks for the input.

JacksonHeliyam (author)2011-12-18

amazing... its really best for therapy. thanks for your great ideas....

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Thanks for checking it out.

JasminGul (author)2011-12-22

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sergiocau (author)2010-11-17

Hi couchchangeracing, i'm a student and i'm doing a work about therapy objects for autism, and your chair is very interesting, can you say me what's it's purpose? it's because it's easier to him to sit?
thank you!

It is more of a focus tool. Since he needs to keep his balance while sitting it helps focus on homework etc.

hammer9876 (author)2010-11-04

Very interesting. I bought a big ball for core strengthening while sitting at the computer, but as I sit at an "L" shaped desk, that didn't work out as there is not enough room. There is plenty of space for this. Thank you for the idea. I think I would like a bit of padding, though. On the top for my backside and the sides so when it falls over, it won't clatter so much or dent my flooring. (No carpeting.)

wyrless2002 (author)hammer98762010-11-04

hammer9876, your comment about added padding makes me think that the large saddle-like bicycle seats (which are already designed to be sat upon comfortably) might be a perfect fit for this. It seems like there is a wide selection of shapes, sizes, gels, springs, and foams; They usually incorporate some front to back angle adjustment and are made for attachment to a piece of tubing, either adjustable like in this 'ible, or a custom length from plumbing pipe.

This is a neat idea, made even more interesting by it's original purpose.

kooyma (author)wyrless20022010-11-18

exactly- this is a brilliant idea! - we'll see if it helps with my concentration "deficiency" and my first thought was a unicycle saddle-seat and making it tall enough for a "standing desk" -or having two heights- one for seat and one for desk...though penmanship might suffer.
I also wonder about a "tractor seat"
couchchangeracing - fantastic! thanks

mkslocomb (author)wyrless20022010-11-04

my dad made these for dining on the porch.. i think he just used galvanized pipe with a simple cap on the end. not adjustable, but easy to have cut at the hardware store. also, dad, mom and i are all pretty much the same height, so no problem there. by the way, some of the most comfortable seats i have ever used.

That sounds like an idea for summer, thanks for the heads up.

That is funny I thought about padding. In this instance the firm top is a good solid foundation for him. We did homework together on them yesterday (I have two). If I were to use it for any length of time for me padding would get added.

macrumpton (author)hammer98762010-11-04

You could make a 12" kids bike tire into a nice durable edge for this stool. I have seen them in many colors.

grogg34 (author)2010-11-14

As mentioned a week or so ago I seen your instructable and the next day I found a seniors walker at the Thrift shop for $4 to use for the leg post (can make 4 if I wanted to now). I had heard about these seats a few years ago and googled them at he time. There were also some with rectangle seats. Your post gave us the boost in the butt to make one for our active 7-year-old using your instructable. I found the rubber bottoms at the local hardware store ("rubber leg tips" they were called - came in sets of 4 for about $5). I also upholstered it using a chunk of foam and upholstery fabric and a carpenters staple gun. Son has just started using it in the classroom and we'll see over time what his teacher reports (everyone thinks it is pretty darn cool). Thanks again.

That is awesome. I hope it works out for him. Thank you for posting the pictures. You took it to the next level with the padding. I may go back and add padding to ours.

distractable (author)2010-11-09

Thanks for the instructable! As someone prone to distractions, I think this will be very helpful in my office work. The balance ball was a no go. too much fun to bounce and roll on.

Yeah, I had the same problem with a ball

craftyv (author)2010-11-03

For those who don't know much about this topic. By having a balance stool the brain unconsciously compensates as the "wobble" begins and new neuro pathways are developed which aids with spacial understanding. Ie. where we are in time and space. Very un-scientific but I hope it helps.

Good way to describe it. The brain with autism has all sorts of interesting wiring differences. In our case Nate has great gross motor skills, i.e. he can dribble a basket ball with both hands; but his fine motor skills are a struggle. He has a lot of trouble writing and getting his fingers to do what his brain tells them. This stool helps with the whole integration of his mental processes while doing homework.

My son used one of these briefly at his school, not for autism, but for mild ADD. I think the point was to keep him focused and alert. He quickly learned how to daydream on it, and then how to put his feet up on his regular chair, while balancing on the new stool. Eventually, we resolved the issue with a shot glass full of coffee with his breakfast and placement in a gifted and talented program. The accelerated curriculum keeps him focused.

We have had the same experience with many different types of educational avenues. Some work now and not later, some work for a long time, some work for a short period of time and some don't work at all. It is a constant push to keep one step ahead of his adapting brain.

My 9 year old daughter is Dyspraxic, would it help her?

craftyv (author)scrappymood2010-11-06

Dear Scrappymood. As you know Dyspraxia is a word that represents more than one thing and presents itself differently with everyone. The current thinking is "brain plasticity" which is, in simple terms, the development of new neural pathways to counteract the ones that are not responding adequately. May I suggest that you read up about this subject and a good place to start is an author named Dr.Norman Doidge. Another tip is to try any type of balance "games". Even the Wii Fit that involves balance, can be great.
I hope you keep searching as there is not one answer to this type of problem but try everything and believe in yourself and your child.

skippyconsuelo (author)craftyv2010-11-12

Just as a general observation on balance, my son was unable to ride his bike without training wheels for quite some time. He asked to be enrolled in a karate class in response to some bullying incidents in his after-school program (Boys and Girls Club). I believe that the katas that they used in training improved his body awareness (center of gravity) and he was riding his bike in no time. I guess my point is that every young person is developing so quickly and on so many fronts, our job as parents is to keep them safe, give them tools, and see what happens. Its so fun!

scrappymood (author)craftyv2010-11-06

Thank you for the suggestion, I read up on anything and everything to find out what I can. We have been trying balance games, she loves the wii when we have had to opportunity to use on at a friends place but are unable to afford one for ourselves, although it may just move up the list of priorities now ;) She has changed a lot and it is noticed by many people which is encouraging but we figure every little bit helps.

We have found that when it is "fun" or a "game" it is waaaayyyyyyy better than "therapy". If you can get them to engage and have success you are way better off.

Also, just a thought on the Wii, have you looked at any pawn shops? I love shopping at pawn shops. We just bought a Nintendo DS at our local pawn shop for $39 with a game. As abusive as my son is on stuff it is a way better idea to buy used. With all of the new generation games coming out this season Wii will no doubt get even cheaper. Craigslist is a good place to look too.

Poehls05 (author)scrappymood2010-11-06

Hi, my son loves this site and I was looking at it and saw your e-mail. Besides being a mom, I used to be an Occupational Therapist. Have you ever heard of Reliv nutrition.? Its helped lots and lots of kids do better in school. Let me know if you'd like to learn more. (

Phoghat (author)scrappymood2010-11-04

First let me say I AM NOT A DOCTOR but I am a pharmacist and I do have a slight understanding of the condition. I don't know what symptoms your daughter has, but if it is of the motor response variety, I would cautiously say it might. Why don't you ask your doctor. Show him a picture of the stool and see what he says.

scrappymood (author)Phoghat2010-11-04

can't hurt to try, if anything it will help build muscle tone (which is lacking)

Phoghat (author)scrappymood2010-11-05

I agree, it can't hurt. Sometimes, because EVERY individual is a little different, something I find it hard to convince some of my patients of,you have to do as doctors do. They use art as much as science. Try a little of this, and see what happens. Try it, with adequate supervision of course, and just see what happens.

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