One day at physical therapy, another patient was using the platform swing that we usually started out Kyle’s appointments with. Instead, his therapist brought out a stretchy hammock-type swing to try. As she clipped it into the suspension system, I hesitantly mentioned that in the past, he hasn’t been a fan of those kinds of swings.
I know there is an element of necessity in going beyond one’s comfort zone in PT, so I didn’t push it. Since Kyle was neither willing nor able to crawl into the swing himself, it took both of us to accomplish it. Kyle lasted about 1 second in the swing, and the experience set off a chain reaction of refusals that lasted most of the appointment.
From then on, the platform swing was always present. In the spirit of challenging him, his therapist will usually let him start on his stomach (which he prefers) and then will require him to sit on the swing, which does a better job working his muscles.
When Kyle uses the swing, you can see an immediate calm wash over him. The benefits of swinging are numerous for kids with autism spectrum disorders, sensory integration issues, and developmental delays. One professional website explained of the platform swing, “This type of swing provides vestibular and proprioceptive input as well as increasing body awareness. It can be used to develop better postural control and upper body strength as well as enhance motor control and hand-eye coordination.”
The following video shows just how amazing a little sensory input can be for a child. While he swings, Kyle sings nearly an entire song for the first time. The part that amazes me most is how smoothly he moves from one word to the next. I can’t help but think that as the swinging aligns his brain waves, he gains the ability to use his brain to a greater degree.