Swinging, jumping, spinning and rocking are important to children not only for fun and exercise but also to help their bodies organize and to regulate their sensory systems. Vestibular input is one of the core elements of sensory integration therapy. Our bodies’ vestibular system is the sensory system that provides the primary input about movement, balance, spatial awareness and positioning. It helps us prepare our posture, maintain our balance, properly use our vision, calm ourselves and regulate our behavior.
The amount of vestibular input varies depending on the child. Some children crave movement, while others may be motion sensitive. It is important that the sensory needs of the child being monitored to determined what is right for them. Some children may start to “stim” after a point and can become more aggressive or hyperactive offsetting any calming effect the swing may have had on the child. Controlled vestibular input under the direction of an occupational or physical therapist is recommended for children with sensory processing issues.
Movement is essential for typical development to occur in all children. Swinging can have a powerful impact the brain’s ability to process and use sensory information. Whether the child is linear swinging on a strap swing, cuddled up in a net swing for proprioceptive input or spinning in a rotating movement, all of these movements can act as a powerful activator on the body’s systems. Swings and a variety of other sensory input are used in this type of therapy. Therapists, parents and teachers can use swings effectively to reinforce any therapy objectives for children and provide sensory diets for special needs children. In addition, swings can act as a strong motivator. Since all kids like to swing (special needs or not), swinging can be used as a reward for positive behavior.
A swing apparatus can vary from a doorway mounted swing frame to a ceiling support eyebolt to a free-standing swing frame. Some systems available are modular and can be moved from one classroom to another with minimal changes. Consider the layout of your room and where the ideal area would be to position the equipment. If space is limited, ceiling mounted swivel hardware can be installed into the framework of a home of classroom. Doorway mounted swings allow the installation of a bar that does not interfere with the function of the door and can be easily removed and moved to another door. A variety of swings are be secured to any of these designs including: platform swings, net swings, hop swing, cuddle swings, bolster swings, high back swing seats and more. Once you have planned your layout, consult a product specialist who can then review your plan and make the proper product recommendations.
When choosing a swing and swing apparatus it is critical to consider safety at all times.
- Adult supervision is always required at all times.
- Be aware of floor, wall and head protection.
- Make sure the swings are able to support the user(s).
- Children who are seizure prone may require additional precautions.
- Make sure the child has the ability to stop on their own at a moment’s notice.
- The child must want to swing on their own. Never force a child to participate.