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My 4-year-old son is fairly high-functioning on the autism spectrum and he is a climber. We have been able to mitigate or redirect most of his climbing using various lifehacks, but there remains one thing I can't figure out a way to beat and it is a huge safety problem: the computer chair. Since most of our mitigation has had to involve clever or lifehack-heavy solutions, I am posting here, rather than on a parent forum. I'm not looking for suggestions on how to control/work with/punish my kid. Every kid with Autism is different and requires unique solutions. I'm only looking for how we can secure or prevent access to the chair when nobody is sitting in it, while we are working through teaching him that it is dangerous.

Desk details:

  • Is a solid wood L-shaped desk
  • Has a hutch/cabinet on one leg of the L
  • The underside of the desk has a 1/2" piece of plywood that mostly covers the back (on both sides of the L)
  • Was handmade by my Dad/Grandad (I would like to modify the desk itself as little as possible).
  • The chair will fit fully under the desk, where he can't climb on it.
  • This thing is both massive and heavy. It is in pretty much the only location it will fit in our home (at least until after COVID virtual work/school are done). Moving it (in any way) is not really an option.

Situational parameters:

  • The desk is in a room which is, for now, his play room.
  • We can't move his playroom right now.
  • We can't get rid of the kid (because someone is always a comedian).
  • Moving the chair across the room isn't enough (we have been just removing it from the room).
  • Bungee-level force would probably be enough.
  • A moderately complex mechanism would also probably be enough.
  • We've used dual release ratchet straps in a couple, of places, it's just not an option for the chair.
  • If the chair is under the desk, he can't get on it.

Kid parameters:

  • Very determined, he will stuff progressively larger toys under something heavy to "jack it up" off the ground. He has also used multiple throw pillows stacked on top of each other to climb over/on top of things (we have no throws anymore).
  • Can beat entry-level childproofing, like basic cabinet locks.
  • Has not figured out how to beat magnet-key locks or ratchet straps yet.

The only thing I have come up with, so far, as a potential solution would be running a bungee through an eye or hook screw on the back panel, then securing the chair in place with that. I'm trying to avoid drilling into the desk, if I don't have to, so any alternative solution/discussion is most appreciated.

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  • When the unoccupied chair is placed under the desk, can your child climb on it?
    – Stan
    Jan 10 at 21:31
  • He cannot. This is why I was thinking something like a hook/eye screw and bungee, near the top of the center pedestal of the chair. Jan 11 at 17:47
  • Would it be viable to have some on the floor (let's say, screwed to the floor for now but we won't resort to that) and you roll the chair in, then roll it sideways so that the wheels are behind it? Your son will try to pull it OVER the obstruction but the desk holds it down, and the "key" is that it needs to be moved some distance sideways before it will pull out?
    – Lefty
    Jan 12 at 10:13
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If you can place something around the desk (top, behind, underneath and front to connect on the top again) you can then 'lock' the chair underneath the desk to that item.

I would go for a rope and a good knot the kid can not yet untie, but most people will go for the ratchet straps. It you run two side by site and knot them together in two places you make an eye to which you can fix the chair.
Be careful not to over tighten, and protect the more delicate edges of the desk.

You will want that chair under the desk, so your child can not climb onto it while it is locked in place.

When I say 'lock' or 'locked' I do not mean a padlock but anything your child can not handle but you can. Bungees would work if you can and the kid can not open them.

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  • So far, this is the best solution, within parameters that has been posted, even if it is a bit on the cumbersome side to use repeatedly. Assuming nothing better comes along in a day or so, I'll mark yours as the accepted answer. Thanks for the reply. Jan 11 at 17:44
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Assuming that plywood covers the back of two long sides, but none covers the two short ends:

  • Position the desk so that one of the short ends touches a wall.

  • When you finish working at the desk, pull it away from the wall.

  • Position the chair against the wall as though you are going to sit at one end.

  • Push the desk back to the wall to trap the chair.

Even if your child does find footholds to climb it, it should be stable.

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  • Unfortunately, the desk is massive and heavy, so moving it with any regularity is a nope. It is also in about the only place in the house it can be at the moment. Thanks for the reply. Jan 11 at 17:44
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If your child has trouble moving the chair and it is in an inconvenient location to use for climbing, this idea may work.

Place the chair wheels/casters into cups (jar lids) so that the chair is difficult to roll around. You'll have to pull it into position; but, it shouldn't be too difficult for an adult.

When the chair is unoccupied, remember to slide it under the desk as far as it will go to prevent easy access to the seat and arms for climbing.

Putting something on or across the seat should make using the chair even more inconvenient. A bungee across the arms or a box on the seat may work to frustrate climbing.

Good luck.

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  • Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, he would be able to defeat the cups (I failed to mention his level of determination). In the past, he as stuffed things under something heavy in order to lift it up. I had also thought about putting something in the seat, but it would have to completely cover the seat, so he didn't have an edge to grab with his monkey toes, while also being short enough to fit under the desk. I might have trouble finding something that is the proper dimensions, but might give it a go. Jan 11 at 17:35

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