Sensory Swing - What benefits it has for kids?
20 May, 2019
Sensory swings are a powerful tool to support and encourage any child’s development. They are even more powerful for kids that have sensory needs, SPD, ADHD, or Autism because they directly work to improve sensory processing. As a result, they can help kids calm down or get the sensations they’re craving!
As a pediatric occupational therapist, I love using sensory swings with kids, but there are times when any given swing can be more harmful than good to a child. I’ll explain how to safely use a swing with your child in this post while you learn my top 10 sensory swings.
What are Sensory Swings?
Sensory swings come in so many different shapes and sizes, but they all serve a purpose. Occupational therapists have been using them in therapy for years, but in the last 5 years, they’ve become readily available (and way more affordable) for families to use in their own homes.
But, really any swing is a sensory swing because anytime you get on a swing, your vestibular system gets a ton of sensory input.
The great A. Jean Ayres theorized that using swings in specific directions and rotations can actually decrease a lot of sensory related behaviors, like poor attention, body awareness, and motor planning (just to name a few). I’d agree as I’ve witnessed this in therapy repeatedly.
In the last few years, I’ve seen a dangerous ad running on social media where a “dad” gets on the screen and says “this sensory swing” will instantly calm and eliminate any tantrums. It made my blood boil, because some kids are sensitive to the movement from swings and will FREAK OUT when they get in a sensory swing.
That sensory sensitivity is definitely something you want to work at overcoming. Through small steps, never forcing your child to get in the swing. If you do force your child to “just try” a swing, it’s likely to make their sensory processing worse and leave them even more fearful.
Also, if you spin your child in a swing, use a lot of caution because it’s VERY strong sensory input. Some kids will throw up, even kids that love spinning, which means their vestibular system has overloaded.
Either avoid spinning your child, and let them take the lead, or spin them just for a few seconds. Then, spin them in the other direction to help balance their system out.