We have had a trampoline in our backyard for about two years.
The kids had been begging us for one for ages. but seemed like such a huge splurge, and I was afraid that once the novelty had worn off, it would sit idle and do nothing but gather the leaves from the trees that surround our backyard.
We bought it primarily as a source of exercise; a means for the kids to get their energy out, but it has become so much more than that.
When people see our backyard, they see a trampoline; a plaything for the kids, but in reality, it is the best sensory tool we could have picked for our daughter, without even meaning to do so.
Our daughter Lilly has always loved to bounce and jump.
Before she could walk, she would constantly bounce in her excersaucer.
She was two and a half when her new brother arrived, and she would climb into his bouncy seat and become agitated when we tried to explain that it was for the baby, and not big girls like her.
She would bounce on the beds, the sofa, chairs; anything that had a little bit of spring to it.
Our sofa cushions were more often on the floor than not after she discovered that she could make a pile and jump in it.
Since she was diagnosed with Autism, I have learned more about why she seeks out this type of stimulation and what it provides for her.
When she jumps up and down, her body receives proprioceptive input and vestibular motion feedback, which helps her with spacial awareness in regards to her limbs and her body’s response as she jumps.
Bouncing is a way of stimming for Lilly.
Some people with autism may flap their hands or wiggle their fingers repeatedly; Lilly bounces.
She will hop up and down when she gets excited, and instead of stomping a foot when she is angry, she jumps so that both feet come down hard on the floor.
When she jumps on the trampoline and her sensory needs are met, she becomes calmer; even if she wasn’t agitated before she went on the trampoline, she would come off looking and acting much more relaxed.
The trampoline is worth every penny we spent on it.
It has been well loved, and despite my fears that it would be ditched after a few weeks, there is not a day it does not get used.
One of the many things I love about it is that it has given Lilly some independence in managing her emotions.
We have avoided a complete meltdown on several occasions because she would run out to the trampoline and bounce until she was calmer without having to be prompted, which is huge in our world.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends that trampolines not be used by children under six years of age, which I didn’t know until way after we bought the trampoline.
All but one of our kids was over six when we got the trampoline, but we set some firm rules, and when the smaller kids were on there they were always closely supervised.
One thing I would recommend, should you choose to get a trampoline, is to get one with a net.
I’m pretty sure we have avoided many trips to the emergency room just because of the trampoline net.
My kids can catch some serious air when they get going!
Also, pay attention to the weight limit- it’s there for a reason!
If your child is very young but you think they may benefit from a trampoline for sensory reasons, there are smaller indoor options that are specifically geared towards children.
There are many indoor play spaces that have trampolines as well, just check ahead of time regarding requirements to do with height, weight and most important, safety.