As well as being a recreational activity, trampolines also form a valuable tool for children and adults alike who have autism and other sensory integration disorders (e.g. Asperger’s Syndrome). Our sessions have been specifically designed to cater for the needs of these people as well as providing families with the opportunity to meet other families who face similar day-to-day challenges. This session is open to anyone who suffers from autism or similar condition. One free parent or carer is allowed access onto the trampolines with every autistic person.
We plan to commence these 2-hour sessions on weekday mornings. We will open up our entire trampoline arena including the huge air-bag, soft ball play area, jumping runway, and foam pit for all jumpers to enjoy.
The Science behind Trampolines and Autism
This part can get a little technical so please bear with us…
People with autism often have deficiencies in their vestibular and proprioceptive sensory systems. The vestibular sense is very important for the perception of movement in the body, and is routed through the stimulation of the inner ear as the head’s position is changed. The proprioceptive sense is the perception of movement in the body as communicated through the ligaments, joints and muscles. Those with normal sensory input process these two senses smoothly; those with autism and sensory disorders do not. This explains why some people with autism seem to walk oddly, because they cannot understand the input they receive through their bodies’ contact with the floor and other movement.
Occupational therapists and parents turn to a number of treatments for this autism, and one of these is the use of a trampoline. The repetitive stimulation of bouncing onto a rebounding surface helps teach the body (over a period of time) how to read those impulses it has not been able to interpret. Many autistic support classrooms have small indoor trampolines available for students to use throughout the day. In addition to the physical therapy benefits, trampolines can be incorporated into lessons by teachers in many ways, for example learning to count bounces by 1s, 2s, 5s or 10s. Another example is teaching autistic people how to follow directions by performing certain activities, such as ‘jump, sit, jump, sit’ patterns, or even as a reward for good behaviour. The rhythmic stimulus soothes the person, helping them learn how to realign their sensory systems.