Swings are crucial to the occupational therapy of children with ADD, ADHD, Autism, and Sensory Integration issues. Sensory experiences include movement, sight, sound, body awareness, touch, and gravity. Sensory integration is the process within the brain to interpret and sort this information. Most people don’t have a problem combining all of their senses. However, for those suffering from autism it is overwhelming trying to process stimuli from sight, smell, touch, sound, taste, body and balance. Occupational therapists often incorporate swings into therapy sessions with autistic children because the swinging motion allows the child to focus on their body awareness.
Some children will enjoy the swaying motion and will relax while using the swing. However, children with Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID) also suffering from vestibular dysfunction might not like the swing at first. For these children, it’s more about regaining balance and learning to tolerate vestibular stimulation. The vestibular sense enables the brain to process the body’s movement, balance, and gravity.
The motion of swinging renews balance to the vestibular system, gives deep pressure and generally makes autistic children feel more balanced. The swinging motion soothes, relaxes and increases concentration. Children who have a difficult time focusing their attention on particular assignments such as mathematics or reading, might find it easier to concentrate while sitting in a swing because their bodies are participating in a soothing activity.
The vestibular sense is our most primal sense and parents can offer vestibular stimulation activities like a swing at home. Setting up a swing at home is easy to do, relatively inexpensive, and does not take up a great deal of space. All of the products listed are by Airwalker. Here’s what you need to get started:
- Ceiling bolt or I-Beam or H-Beam Installation – Steel I and H beams are common structures in buildings with more than one floor. Use these as part of the swing set up and attach to a Swing Safety Connector. The Swing Safety Connector fits many swings and holds up to five hundred pounds. A solid support bar is a necessary part of a great indoor swinging system. A well built support bar is designed to fit in any doorway. If you are placing it in a doorway temporarily or just want the flexibility of putting it up and taking it down easily it can be soft mounted without any screws.
- Swivel Swing Board with Eye Bolts – If you don’t have a doorway to hang a support bar you can secure the swing to your ceiling framework. The Swivel Board provides sensory stimulation while eye bolts allow for a variety of attachments to be hooked onto the board. It measures 36″ long by 6″ wide.
- Spandex swing – Stretch fabric provides the feeling of being in the air and also deeply held. It provides a total body pressure that not only feels good, but builds muscular strength, coordination and balance. Being suspended creates a deeper relationship to gravity, which cues the sensory system responsible for equilibrium and coordination. After moving or resting in an Airwalker Swing, a child can feel more attentive, calm, and stimulated. The child may be totally enwrapped, lying flat, standing up, sitting down, or with another adult or child.
These are just a few of the products that can be used in sensory integration in the home. Therapists love using the Airwalker because it is great at implementing sensory integration, spatial awareness coordination, and muscular strength. It is specifically designed with a Spandex sack that can be suspended from either a ceiling bolt or frame. It has a cocoon-like fabric which offers a total body pressure. The airwalker swing shields the child from being seen by others proving a sense of safety. The versatility promotes positive body movement experiences that instill self assurance, adventurousness, and desire.