March 1, 2011

Therapy Tuesday: Jumping & Swinging

Over the past year I've been learning a new language. It's not Spanish, French, Chinese, or Russian. In fact, there is a good chance you haven't even heard of this language. It's called Specnetalk (aka: Special Needs Talk). It's from the land some people call Holland. Sure, I would have preferred to learn Italian (I've always wanted to go to Tuscany and take cooking classes), but the guide book I was given was for another place. One of the phrases from this language I have referred to a couple of times is "sensory diet." 

A 'sensory diet' (coined by OT Patricia Wilbarger) is a carefully designed, personalized activity plan that provides the sensory input a person needs to stay focused and organized throughout the day. Just as you may jiggle your knee or chew gum to stay awake or soak in a hot tub to unwind, children need to engage in stabilizing, focusing activities too. Infants, young children, teens, and adults with mild to severe sensory issues can all benefit from a personalized sensory diet. (Raising A Sensory Smart Child)

A sensory diet is crucial for Grant to be able to calm his body, give him body awareness (proprioception), stability (vestibular input), and it helps him to focus on various learning activities. A couple very important ingredients in Grant's sensory diet is jumping and swinging.

 
Grant walked at 18 months. He could jump without holding onto anything at 19 months. He could jump (feet leaving the ground at least an inch or more) while holding onto furniture at 14 months. He was a blur in the Jumperoo at five months. This kid LOVES to jump. Grant got a small trampoline yesterday. It took him mere seconds to know what to do.

Jumping: Grant loves to jump. He starts jumping mobs with kids his age wherever he goes. He jumps while watching TV, stops to jump while we are out on walks, and I can usually hear him jumping up in his room after he wakes up from his nap. Jumping provides proprioceptive input (sensations from joints, muscles and connective tissues that lead to body awareness). This input can also be obtained from "heavy work." We have Grant lift, carry, and roll medicine balls down our little slide before he goes down. He also pushes and pulls a small laundry basket with a heavier medicine ball in it all around the house. 

Swinging: The best way to calm Grant down when he is cranky or falling all over himself (aside from pressure therapy) is to swing him. We don't have a swing set in our back yard so we try to visit the park as often as the weather permits. If you stop by to visit, you'll probably witness Grant pulling out the designated blanket to initiate "blanket swinging." This is the best alternative to having an indoor framework for therapy swings. Each person (two adults) takes two corners of the blanket and Grant lies in the middle while we swing him back and forth. Sometimes he just lays still and collects himself but often he'll move around in the blanket getting all sorts of vestibular input (The sense of movement, centered in the inner ear. While any movement will engage and simulate the vestibular system, spinning and swinging are the best and most intense.). We try to do this at least twice a day.

So now you have learned a little Specnetalk. Stick around and you might become fluent in it.

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2 comments:

  1. How perfect your "Laugh" sign is above Grant's head! Thank you for sharing all the wisdom you're learning. Even though I'm not a mom yet, I'm gleaning so much from you.

    Praying for you guys continually!

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  2. I have a 2 yr old son who is believed to be autistic- no official diagnosis yet. his OT and DI have recently introduced the blanket swinging and brushing with joint compression and suggested investing in a small trampoline. I have been trying to find ways to help calm him and although this is all new to us have already seen some improvement. I wonder if you have any suggestions for verbal communication- he was saying a few words and then just completely stopped around 14-16 months of age.

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