Children with autism need extra sensory input to keep them aware of their body in space. It is thought that activities such as jumping on a trampoline can help kids with autism have a better sense of being “grounded” and calm. Also, jumping has the obvious benefits of using up extra energy, and being lots of fun!
Most often, simply telling your child to stop jumping on the furniture is not going to work. While it may stop the juming at the time, the behavior will ultimately continue. This is because jumping fulfills a sensory and physical need for input to their joints, legs, and body. This is why many occupational and physical therapists have trampolines to help kids with gross motor coordination and for sensory needs. Many kids I have worked with LOVE trampoline jumping, and can benefit from social interaction from other siblings and peers who also love to jump.
Jumping can be calming, expend excess energy, and help kids with autism interact with typical peers. Most kids in general find trampolines a ton of fun, whether they have autism or not. It can be a way for your child to interact with special needs peers, or neighborhood kids.
How to Know If Your Child May Benefit From Trampoline Jumping
Jumping on a trampoline is great for replacing some of the unsafe/bothersome behaviors that your child displays to fulfill their sensory needs. Some behaviors that may indicate your child would benefit from a trampoline:
- frequently jumping on furniture
- climbing on furniture
- running or pacing around the house
- kicking objects for sensory input
- enjoying jumping during physical or occupational therapy
There Are 2 Basic Types of Trampolines
- Large, outdoor trampolines: These are usually put in backyards and can come with netting to prevent children from falling off. Games and other activities can happen with these – I have done hours of behavior therapy on a trampoline because the kids love it!
- Smaller, indoor trampolines: One person, usually for indoor use
- For those living in apartments
- Families without backyards
- Toddlers who may need a handle bar for balance: some of these come with built in bars for smaller children to balance on
Another option is a yoga ball – these can be used as a chair or something to bounce on while indoors. This may be an option for older kids who need extra sensory input while watching TV, doing homework, or just hanging out at home. A Bosu ball may also work to give a younger child a place to jump inside the home.