Getting into the Swing of Therapy

To children there is nothing more exciting and fun than playing on a swing. For a child to develop properly they must experience this type of motion without fear. Children in the autism spectrum can have difficulty with this type of sensory input. The use of vestibular swings can be an integral part of sensory integration therapy. It is the rhythmic movement that these swings provide to children that can calm them and provide them the sensory input that their bodies crave.

Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy

What exactly is vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT)? It’s basically a fancy way to use movement to help someone with sensory integration problems. Through the use of swings our central nervous system can be “trained” to overcome some sensory input shortcomings. According to the website, the reason for swinging before therapy is that vestibular sensations are the strongest and have the greatest effect on learning. Swinging from a single point in a linear direction for as little as 15 minutes can set the optimum arousal level in the brain and body for a calming or arousing effect, whichever is needed, and keeps the brain’s chemicals at an optimum level for learning. For children with autism that require this type of sensory integration therapy it can be a great way to start therapy and therefore improve behaviors.

In an article written for the website, Cindy Hatch-Rasmussen explains how the vestibular system works. For those on the autism spectrum, they can be hypersensitive to vestibular stimulation and therefore dislike movement activities such as swinging, slides, or walking up inclines/declines. A child with autism can also have a completely opposite reaction and show signs of a hypo-reactive vestibular system. They will seek out that type of sensory input such as excessive spinning, jumping, or whirling which can be disruptive behavior. The use of vestibular swings in both been therapy setting and at home can help these children overcome this deficiency.

Options for Vestibular Therapy Swings

Getting into the Swing of Therapy

The use of the vestibular swing may seem like an obvious choice, but which one is right for you? There are different styles and materials that may be suitable for your situation, not to mention be used indoors and outdoors.

  • A great example is the Tumble Forms 2 Deluxe Vestibulator II System. Since its legs are removable, it’s portable and easy to maneuver. It offers vertical stimulation, linear acceleration, and a complete range of motion experiences. It includes the frame, net swing with positioning seat, prone net swing, and roll swing amongst other things that make this item perfect for most situations. Even though it is lightweight and easy to store it has a 250-pound weight limit.
  • The FlagHouse Sensory Integration Support System is a great freestanding system with a variety of options to accommodate lower ceilings and smaller rooms. It has an 1150 lbs capacity. Its green powder coated structural steel tubing does not slip or slide even during the most rigorous activities.
  • For facilities with limited space, FlagHouse Sensory Integration Station works great. It has a strong frame, a sturdy base and four-inch thick padding that work with most suspended equipment. Its working load is 300 pounds.

Getting into the Swing of Therapy

Many swings are designed to be used indoors. They swings are easily attached to doorways and other open areas so that therapy can be continued in the home. The Playaway Toy Company manufactures several different versions so a user can choose which is right for their situation.

  • The Rainy Day Indoor Infant and Toddler Swing is specifically designed to entertain and relax a child with natural swinging motion. It is designed for children six months up to three years of age and has a 60-pound weight limit.
  • Playaway also offers the Rainy Day Indoor Strap Swing. It can both be used in the safety of the home and to achieve appropriate sensory input.
  • For those who want an apparatus that does more than one activity, Playaway Toy offers the Rainy Day Indoor Support Bar. It transforms any doorway into an indoor playground by accommodating over 30 attachments of individual choice. Children can swing anytime they want and release excess energy. It can easily fit in any doorway from 29 to 36 inches width.

These swings can offer a wide array of vestibular and sensory input for therapy.


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