Swinging, spinning and rocking are important to children to help their bodies organize and 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.
My daughter’s therapists use swings effectively to reinforce her objectives and provide a rich sensory diet for her. They use the swings as a strong motivator and reward for positive behavior. For example, when my daughter completes a puzzle or repeats the words or phrase asked of her, SWING ME PLEASE are the first words out of her mouth. Some days, her entire therapy session is done while in the swing. Her therapists found she is most responsive while engaging in her preferred activity – swinging! In fact, my daughter’s first sign and words were in a swing!
Caution: It is important that the sensory needs of a child be 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. Controlled vestibular input under the direction of an occupational or physical therapist is recommended for children with sensory processing issues.
For more information on swings, here are the links to the austism-products.com website.