The Benefits of Trampolining for Autistic Children
Besides being a lot of fun, jumping on a trampoline helps children on the spectrum to improve motor skills, coordination and balance. Trampolining is also a great way to meet kids’ sensory stimulation requirements, provide lots of movement to stimulate their senses, and create a focused activity to do when they feel over-stimulated.
We brought our trampoline to the 2019 IncludeNYC Fair, New York City’s largest event for families and young people with autism and disabilities. At least 100 of the children who attended jumped on our trampoline. They had fun while enjoying trampolining's huge fitness benefits.
IncludeNYC had nearly 900 parents and children streaming through nearly 100 exhibits. The stimulation from noise and crowds is hard on children on the autism spectrum. Children who approached our trampoline fearfully were soon laughing. More than one meltdown was reversed in minutes with my help and the help of Elizabeth Pruzinsky, our Director of BCBA, MST, NYSLBA.
The smooth, repetitive motion of trampolining provides the same kind of self-comforting feelings as “stimming”, like rocking, swinging and fidgeting. Jumping on a trampoline is an excellent way to simulate these soothing moves and works as an anti-stress method at the same time.
One sweet boy liked our trampoline so much that he came back several times. When it was time to go, he started a meltdown. By rocking him and compressing his arms and legs with mine, I was able to stop the meltdown and send him back to his mom laughing in under two minutes.
Benefits of Trampolining for Autistic Kids
There’s hardly a piece of exercise equipment more simple than a trampoline. Yet the remarkable benefits of trampolining include:
Learning to use muscles to control the direction of the bounce helps to improve balance
Finding the center of their bodies and, “steering” it prompts righting reflexes
Improving motor skills, coordination, muscle strength, stable posture
Providing increased stamina
Jumping also can help children develop proprioception, which is the ability to sense the orientation of one’s body in one’s environment.
Repeated use builds lower body strength and ability to balance
In my practice, parents and caregivers of children with autism tell me that their children start to learn more effectively when they are able to reinforce their intellectual development with physical movements. Having a trampoline at home is one excellent way to provide daily exercise that children love because it’s fun.