It's very hard for most people to understand how something such as swinging is very important for kids on the autism spectrum. To put it as simple as I can put it....it helps organize their brain and regulate their body! I know that is hard to understand how swinging can do that.
Here are a few paragraphs from an article on sensory integration for kids with autism....
Sensory experiences include touch, movement, body awareness, sight, sound and the pull of gravity. The process of the brain organizing and interpreting this information is called sensory integration. Sensory integration provides a crucial foundation for later, more complex learning and behavior. For most children, sensory integration develops in the course of ordinary childhood activities. Motor planning ability is a natural outcome of the process, as is the ability to adapt to incoming sensations. But for some children, sensory integration does not develop as efficiently as it should. When the process is disordered, a number of problems in learning, development, or behavior may become evident.
It's logical, then, that therapists facilitate brain development by guiding the child to pleasurable activities providing vestibular, tactile and proprioceptive stimulation. It is not coincidental that young children spontaneously run, jump, spin, climb, and love all kinds of rough and tumble play. Some children, especially those who are developmentally delayed, do not get enough of these kinds of stimulation. For them, sensory integrative therapy can help to provide what has been lacking and stimulate more normal development. The fact that the brain can develop throughout life (neural plasticity) is what makes development possible.
A few more paragraphs from another website.
Swinging, jumping, spinning and rocking are important to children not only for fun and exercise but also to help their bodies organize and to regulate their sensory systems. Vestibular input is one of the core elements of sensory integration therapy. Our bodies' vestibular system is the sensory system that provides the primary input about movement, balance, spatial awareness and positioning. It helps us prepare our posture, maintain our balance, properly use our vision, calm ourselves and regulate our behavior. The amount of vestibular input varies depending on the child. Some children crave movement, while others may be motion sensitive. It is important that the sensory needs of the child being monitored to determined what is right for them. Some children may start to "stim" after a point and can become more aggressive or hyperactive offsetting any calming effect the swing may have had on the child. Controlled vestibular input under the direction of an occupational or physical therapist is recommended for children with sensory processing issues. Movement is essential for typical development to occur in all children. Swinging can have a powerful impact the brain's ability to process and use sensory information. Whether the child is linear swinging on a strap swing, cuddled up in a net swing for proprioceptive input or spinning in a rotating movement, all of these movements can act as a powerful activator on the body's systems. Swings and a variety of other sensory input are used in this type of therapy. Therapists, parents and teachers can use swings effectively to reinforce any therapy objectives for children and provide sensory diets for special needs children. In addition, swings can act as a strong motivator. Since all kids like to swing (special needs or not), swinging can be used as a reward for positive behavior.
With all of that said, the boys have a new swing in their sensory room! We now have two swings. The good thing here is that they can both swing at the same time! The swings also provide a nice small area where they feel comfortable and protected in.
Andrew rode along with me this morning to take Trenton to Harsha. I had a good talk with Andrew a few weeks ago and explained how Trenton needed more help then he did. Andrew really had a good understanding of the conversation. He no longer cries or gets upset when I take Trenton. Anyway, after we dropped off Trenton, Andrew and I went to Burger King. I thought it would be fun for Andrew to play in their indoor kid area. However, Andrew did not play in it.
He broke my heart when we arrived. We got him some food and walked into the play area. He looked at me with the saddest eyes and said, "Where are my friends?"
I told him that he could still play even though he didn't have other kids to play with. Andrew refused to play. He asked repeatedly, "Where are my friends?"
I tried over and over to get him to go down the slide but he wouldn't. He acted like he had no clue how to walk up stairs and go down a slide. It seriously pulled at my heartstrings. This is not the first time this has happened. Andrew does not know how to act and play unless others are there to show him what to do. I did my best to explain to him that it was okay if he did it by himself but he wouldn't. He managed to go to the second stair. He posed for a picture and then got really scared and came running to me crying. My morning time with Andrew didn't turn out like I thought it would but that's okay. My mission is to get Andrew some friends:)
Andrew did enjoy taking pictures of himself. I have a total of 13 pictures that look like these....
Then he wanted to do selfies over and over.
He was so proud of himself when he got to the second stair. Just wish he would have went up the other two stairs and the slide:(
After our horrendous night last night, I was starving for something good! I needed something to let me know that what I do 24/7 is all worth it!
Andrew has been battling a horrible cold for a week now. (I am calling the doctor tomorrow). I have it now. Needless to say, Andrew's sleeping has been atrocious. Andrew does not sleep when he is sick. I have been very thankful for the fact that Trenton has been in a good sleeping pattern until last night. I battled Andrew til almost 11:00 PM. He couldn't sleep due to his runny nose and cough. Finally, he was sleeping good at 11 and Trenton was awake going wild by 12:30 AM. Between only getting an hour and a half sleep last night, taking care of Trenton's late night antics, and Andrew constantly waking up for me to wipe his nose or soothe him back to sleep.....I was hungry for some good news to pick me up!
Thank you to Harsha for letting me know what Trenton did today!!! I got what I needed!
Trenton was doing table work with his coach. His coach had some cards out on the table that had various pictures of objects and people. Trenton spontaneously says, "I want Mommy." Therefore, his coach looked through the cards until she found my picture. When she gave it to him he smiled and clapped! He carried the picture around and when the coach took the picture away, he would ask for it again!! Also, he kept on asking for heart stickers and he would place the stickers all over me!!!
I have a precious video of him saying my name. Hopefully I will post it soon!
Love it!!!! Thank you Trenton James! When I heard this my heart melted and my eyes swelled up in tears! I love you Bubba!!!! Keep fighting, we are doing a pretty good fight against autism!
Trenton fell back to sleep at 6AM this morning on our couch. However, Andrew was awake so he didn't sleep very long.
Andrew loves Pepper!!
Andrew was my date to church on Sunday morning. He loves our new church! He was upset that Trenton stayed home but after I explained that Mommy couldn't handle him and Trenton by myself, Andrew seemed to understand.
I took the boys out this afternoon to play in the snow. They really enjoyed it! I wish we could have stayed out longer however, Trenton dictated that for us. He kept on taking off his shoes and coat. The first time he took of his shoes it took me a few minutes to catch him. He ran faster in the slick snow than I thought was humanly possible for anyone. I kept on slipping and totally wiped out at one point. I'm sure we looked like a crazy sight. Trenton running at Olympic speed in the snow with Mommy behind him falling left and right....and with Andrew behind Mommy fussing because he was way slower than me. When I finally caught him I took him inside, warmed up his feet and changed his socks and shoes. I told him repeatedly that it was not summer and we had to leave on our shoes and coat.
After my talk we went outside and a few minutes later we were in the same situation as before plus with socks off. After I finally caught him, we went inside once again. Repeated the same scenerario and found ouselves in for good ten minutes later.
In most situations a neurotypical brain of a normal 4 1/2 year old would cry with bare feet running through the snow. Trenton's body feels things at a much different level than a neurotypical brain. It's very sad! The older he gets, the harder some things get. I fear the day that he is a grown man that weighs 200 lbs and doing things like this. I never want him to be too much for me to handle....that's a fear of mine.
Here are some pictures before Trenton started taking off his shoes and socks.
Andrew said, "Mommy make Olaf."
I said, "Who is Olaf?"
Andrew says, "Frozen."
Then I figured it out. Olaf is the name of the snowman in the movie, Frozen.
Mommy made a very tiny Olaf.
I showed him how to make a snow angel. This is Andrew's attempt at making one.