Trampolines - good for your kids
When Stimming is Beneficial: Trampolines and the Autistic Child
Imagine if your autistic child could calm down without looking weird to outsiders.
“Ha!” you’re probably thinking. “Not possible.”
Flapping the hands, banging the head, wiggling fingers… whatever it is, stimming just has people staring.
But guess what? There is an activity that provides intense, highly therapeutic feedback yet still looks very, very normal: Trampoline jumping
When your child jumps up and down...up and down...on that trampoline, his/her body gets two things it craves badly (I’m going to get all jargony on you now): proprioceptive input and vestibular motion feedback.
What does all this do? It helps your child be aware of space, of his body, how his limbs respond to each jump. It’s an autism-friendly exercise, and for the icing on the top - it’s a socially acceptable repetitive behavior. So your kid can finally have a way to calm down without standing out.
Here are some more ways trampoline jumping can help your autistic child grow and thrive:
- Regulate Intense Emotions: Pent-up emotions. We all experience that. But for the autistic child, as you know, the eventual necessary release tends to be very loud and wreak a lot of havoc. But trampoline jumping? It is extremely relieving but does no damage. Best of all, it doesn’t just work when the “explosion” is simmering right under the surface. You can use it regularly so your child releases those feelings before they become so overwhelming. And do it often enough, your child will soon learn to crave the relief of the trampoline and go on their own volition. That’s huge.
- Improve Body and Safety Awareness: Tired of keeping your kid out of danger? Teach him to avoid danger on his own. And the best way to do that is to increase his awareness of his body and the world around him. Trampoline therapy can help with that. Why? When your child jumps on the trampoline, when he returns to the surface, his body automatically gets bounced upwards from the impact. This pretty much forces his body to react appropriately to the bounce. In other words, you’re bypassing logic and going straight to visceral reactions. And if your child does this again and again, he’ll automatically become more aware of the center of his body as he tries to gain control of the bounce to avoid falling. (We’ll go back to jargon to make the therapist happy: trampoline bouncing will increase coordination by improving bilateral motor skills.) With this autism-friendly exercise, your child’s body will unconsciously learn to interpret the signals being sent to the brain.
- Increase Strength and Muscle Tone: Your kid spends just a bit too much time on screens, right? And it’s no surprise. Keeping an autistic child out of trouble is tough, and if you’ve got other kids to care for and things to do, technology is often the most efficient solution. But you know it’s not good for your child. Electronics are habit-forming, mind-numbing, don’t provide sensory input, and don’t keep your child healthy. What you need? A way to keep your child happy AND moving. And trampoline jumping is just the thing. Your child will get fresh air and sunlight while strengthening his/her muscles. All while doing an activity that makes him feel really good and keeps him out of your hair. Put him on that trampoline and watch as his muscle tone improves, he loses weight, and improves his coordination and posture.
- Easy Socializing: Socializing is tough for your autistic child. And sports? Forget about it. Way too overwhelming, dealing with rules and other kids and physical activity at the same time. Make it easier with a “sport” that allows parallel play with some interaction, and has no rules. Wanna take a guess? You got it - it’s trampoline jumping to the rescue once again. It’s an autism-friendly exercise that will let your autistic child spend time with other kids in a non-threatening way. Make it easier with a “sport” that allows parallel play with some interaction, and has no rules. Wanna take a guess? You got it - it’s trampoline jumping to the rescue once again. It’s an autism-friendly exercise that will let your autistic child spend time with other kids in a non-threatening way.
- Reinforce and Encourage Learning: You want your autistic child to reach full potential. To learn. To pick up skills But teaching an autistic child is tough. And you often need extra tools to achieve your goals. One such tool is a trampoline. Trampoline jumping is not just about exercise and physical awareness. It’s a great way to get your child learning. For example, you can use it as a motivational tool: “If you say this word properly, you can jump on the trampoline for one minute.” But you can also use it to aid the learning process. You can play games like “Simon Says” on the trampoline. While he’s getting sensory stimulation from the jumping, he’s able to process the directions much more easily. And kids with autism learn much more effectively when the learning is reinforced with physical activity. So you can, for example, chalk some words onto the trampoline and have your child jump from one word to another to form a sentence. The possibilities are endless. A trampoline can be your child’s ticket to reach previously unimaginable goals. The sensory input will allow them to do things they could never have done without it, whether it’s making eye-contact or learning something new. Get that trampoline. Watch your child thrive.
6 Ways a Trampoline will Boost Your Child’s Brain
- Jumpstart the Day: Teacher complaining that your kid is too distracted and jumpy? A good kid’s workout on the trampoline is what he needs. Why? Children who run for 15-45 minutes a day before school are less distracted and more attentive in class. And according to NASA, 10 minutes of jumping will get you the same benefits of 30 minutes of running. So if you get your kids to do a ten-minute trampoline jump before school, you have blood pumping into their brain, ready for the day.
- Learn With the Jump: Mix learning with trampolining. Help them learn how to count with a trampoline jump contest. Or learn to tell time by tracking, on the clock, how much time they spent on the trampoline. Studies even show during a kid’s workout - while they’re actually doing light exercise - it’s easier for them to learn a new language. So next time your child needs to study for a Spanish test, consider flashcards on the trampoline.
- Boost Their Memory: The hippocampus—that’s the part of your brain responsible for memory and learning—is also the part of the brain that responds to aerobic exercise. What that means for you? When your kid’s workout is giving him a good sweat, it’s not just the muscles getting stronger; it’s also the memory. Get that trampoline jump started; your child’s memory will thank you for it.
- Grow Their Brains - Literally: Want your child growing new brain cells, fast? Get them on a trampoline, every day. Because regular exercise releases BDNF, the protein responsible for forming and strengthening new connections in your brain. And that means plenty of new and stronger pathways to help him process all that stuff he learns every day. How much exercise does the trick? An hour a day. That’s twenty minutes in the morning, twenty at recess and twenty when he gets home from school. For adults and kids, workouts are not just a nice plus - they’re a must for anyone who wants to keep their brain growing. And here’s why a trampoline jump is the exercise of choice. Rebounding - jumping up and down - improves blood circulation, sending fresh oxygen to the brain. For optimal results, have your child “cross pattern” movements on the trampoline. Because when a movement done by the left side of the body is repeated on the right side, it enhances communication between the two hemispheres of the brain. Result of enhanced communication? Improved mental capacity, especially for reading and writing.
- Improve Attention Spans: Thirty minutes of solid exercise—the kind that gets your heart racing and your body sweating—does wonders for attention span. In science geek terms, strenuous cardiovascular activity puts up some nice distraction-proof armor around the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. And less distraction = more attention. Kid’s workouts are a lot more valuable than you ever realized. And since 10 minutes of jumping is like 30 minutes of running, just those 10 minutes give your child a real head start.
- Keep Them Well Rested: Of all the brain-boosting tricks out there, the BEST hack to improve memory and learning is to get enough sleep. The best way to make sure your child gets a solid night of sleep? Good old exercise. Your kid’s workout on the trampoline will help regulate his/her circadian rhythm so he/she can get a good, deep sleep.