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How Jumping on a Trampoline Benefits Autism

Feb 12, 2019

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If you were to ask Jack what he likes to do in his spare time, he might mention swinging in his backyard, swimming during the Summer, or jumping on his trampoline. These might seem like typical activities of an average 11-year-old, but for Jack, there’s a lot more to it.

Jack has Down syndrome, but he also falls on the spectrum; Jack has a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

“When we talked to Jack’s occupational therapist, we learned that jumping on a trampoline helps Jack’s vestibular system,” described Jennie, Jack’s mother. “Jack’s inner ear is off, so he is always seeking activities to stimulate this system.”

Jumping on a Trampoline can be Soothing

When individuals struggle with vestibular input, they are either over or under sensitive to their balance and movement. In Jack’s case, he needs the additional movement the trampoline provides.
Many children with autism love to jump and bounce. It is a particularly enjoyable repetitive behavior that can provide both soothing and stimulating sensory input.

“Our occupational therapist really helped us understand that Jack needed a ‘sensory diet,’” Jennie continued. “Just like you and I need to feed our bodies when we feel hungry, and we can’t concentrate until we’ve eaten, Jack needs to ‘feed’ his vestibular system. Jack needs a sensory break every now and again in order to help him focus better.”

These breaks are not only beneficial to Jack’s sensory processing, but to his physical and social health as well.

Jumping on a trampoline gives Jack multiple benefits. The jumping motion helps strengthen the muscles in his joints and the sensory pressure stimulates his inner ear. I like that jumping on a trampoline is just healthy for kids in general. It gives them the exercise they need,” noted Jennie.

Like Jack, there are many other individuals who benefit from jumping on a trampoline. 31-year-old B.J., for example, has been jumping on a trampoline since he was a toddler.

B.J.’s Aunt DeAnne recalls, “My mother had one of those smaller exercise trampolines, and when B.J. was little we would put him on there and let him bounce. It helped him a lot with his balance. Since he has Down syndrome it took him longer to develop. Even when he was little he didn’t learn to crawl. He just scooted everywhere. The trampoline definitely helped strengthen his muscles.”

Jumping and Autism: Wide-Ranging Benefits

Regular, physical activity produces moderate to large benefits, including improved motor skills, skill-related fitness, social functioning, muscular strength and endurance.

“Jumping on the trampoline helped B.J.’s balance, and it helped with stimulation. He doesn’t usually show a lot of interest in activities, but he has always showed an interest in the trampoline. Jumping on the trampoline helps him respond to other activities. I think jumping on the trampoline gives him the freedom to do things by himself. It gives him a sense of independence and accomplishment,” DeAnne added.

Trampolines are an excellent way to promote physical fitness, but for individuals like Jack and B.J., trampolines can make a significant difference in their physical and mental development.

“If another mom or parent came to me describing some of the tendencies Jack has, I would recommend a trampoline,” Jennie advised.

“I would recommend a trampoline for someone like B.J. Anyone who has Down syndrome, Autism or something similar could really benefit from jumping on a trampoline! B.J. is 31-years-old now, and the trampoline has helped him progress a lot over the years,” DeAnne concluded.

For more information on how jumping on a trampoline helps those with special needs and autism, check out our list of helpful resources

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