The first thing we wanted to do in our new backyard was get our little man a swing. Our trees aren’t quite big enough so we are using our pergola over our back patio. Noah loves the swing. We use a very large one at our therapy sessions, and Noah has seen his fair share of swings in other people’s backyards. We have been waiting patiently to have a swing of our very own and today is the day.
My favorite part of swinging is Noah’s laugh. He does it every time he gets in the swing, and I can’t get enough of it. He just giggles away like he is having the best time ever. The laugh also encourages us to keep pushing to continue the fun. He has trained us well.
Think swings are just for fun? Think again.
We didn’t buy this swing for any other purpose but for Noah (and us) to have fun. However there are some great side benefits to swinging, not only for children with Down syndrome, but for all kids.
We will often start our occupational therapy sessions with swinging as it helps wake up Noah’s muscles and get him to activate his core. The movement forces him to engage his core to keep him sitting up. It helps him be aware of his body and the different movements he needs to make to maintain his balance.
Sensory Integration And Swinging
Swinging helps with sensory integration. Two sensing systems we have (and no I am not just talking about taste, touch, smell, hearing, sight) are our vestibular system and proprioception. All of our systems intertwine so we can move with ease and experience our environment. These two senses are vital to be able to do this.
1. Vestibular System
Our vestibular system is in our inner ear and helps us know if we are moving and which direction we are going. It is essential to balance. It is the reason we get motion sickness or feel like the room is spinning if you are every diagnosed with vertigo. We actually have three loops in our inner ear and the direction of the fluid inside tells our brain how we are moving. God’s design always blows me away. If you apply this to swinging, you are moving in multiple directions and having to balance on the seat, all integrating our vestibular system to figure out what in the world is going on.
Proprioception is our sense of knowing our body and where our different parts are located in relation to each other and how they are moving. It can be described as body awareness. There are constant messages being sent from our peripheral body (through proprioceptors and nerves) to our brain and ears telling them where these parts are located and what they are doing. Again apply this to swinging, and the body has to figure out where you are in space and how to control a moving object.
Movement involves so many different messages from our body and swinging is just one tool used to help our little guys figure out how to interpret those messages and use their bodies to the best of their ability.
Have you discovered any “hidden” benefits of using your child’s favorite toys or activities.