When growing up, kids will want to move around. Spinning, jumping and climbing are all ways that they will show. This is a vestibular and proprioceptive stimuli that helps them strengthen their muscles and better their motor skills.
With time though, parents of neurotypical children will feel that their kids are just too much and so they will scold them, issue a time-out or even whoop them if their behavior is too unbecoming.
Because let’s face it, kids can be naughty and they will do things just to get attention. A neurotypical kid will toss themselves around at the local store just because their parent has refused to buy them candy. They will roll and wail when you refuse to buy them that toy they are demanding for.
For atypical kids on the other hand, things are never that straightforward. Such activities such as crying out loud in public, refusing to enter new environments may just be indicators of a meltdown awaiting to happen since you have taken them to places with too much sensory input.
One thing about kids with autism is that they tend to be hyperactive. Always on the run. Always wanting to climb on surfaces and perching there or jumping on cushion seats the whole day. Some parents might even install plexiglass on their bookshelves since their kids just tend to climb all over them. Most will also want to mount their televisions on the walls since the kid will just want to climb on them causing them to fall off shelves or injure themselves in the process.
To address the needs of kids with signs of sensory seeking climbing or stimming around, you could do the following:
1. Get a mini trampoline
If you have the money, you could buy a mini trampoline where your kids are going to have fun bouncing off on the rebounder. It has been found to be a therapeutic activity that not only takes away most of their energy but also gets your kid excited.
Having a mini trampoline is the best way to ensure that your child is engaging in bouncing is the safest of ways. You will monitor the gymnastic antics they are doing while also making sure that they are holding onto the safety bar and a net is installed. With a mini trampoline, you are assured that your child is jumping on the rebounder alone. This way, they will not be colliding with other eager and excited kids who could end up hurting them as they jump too close.
The use of indoor mini trampolines has been found to reduce the incidences of trampoline accidents by a great percentage according to studies done in the topic.
2. Get them playing in the field
Let your child spend most of their energy out there in the field. They could run, jog or even play football.
3. Get climbing holds installed in your house
You could install climbing holds so that for a kid doing sensory seeking climbing, they are able to do it in a safe way.
4.Take them out to a park where there is a communal play trampoline
If you do not have the money to buy a mini trampoline for your indoors, you could still take them out to a park trampoline. They will still have fun out there as they engage in activities that will address their proprioceptive needs.
Though most accidents could be experienced at the trampoline park if you are not very careful with who your kid is jumping around with as well as how well padded the park trampoline is, activities at the park are not only going to excite your kid but will also foster social interaction. Your child is going to spend lots of time with other kids, interact with them as they enjoy the trampolining effect.
5. Let them help around the house and even during shopping
Your child could also help around the house. Let them carry laundry by dragging the clothes basket. At the shopping stores, allow the kids to push around the shopping cart. In this way, they are not only expending energy but they are also feeling like part of the family.
6. Have them carry a backpack
Though this might seem odd and even embarrassing when you have a kid with a backpack full of books on their backs at home, it has been found to be of great help. With the heavy bag of books, your kid is going to be more contained and calmer because of the sheer weight of books. The same concept of having heavy weights have been applied in getting compression vests and weighted blankets for children with autism.
7. Rolling on blankets, bear hugs
Though they may sound mundane and one might actually wonder how such tasks help autistic children, you can get press them in between soft seat cushions, roll them on blankets like hot dogs or even give them deep bear hugs. All these have been evaluated and found to cause good sensory stimuli that get your autistic child calmer and more settled.
8. Tire swings, horseback riding and rock gyms
If you live in the countryside, you could install tire swings on trees so that your autistic child could find proprioceptive and vestibular stimuli from this activity. Other activities that they could engage in is climbing on a rock gym.
If there is a horseback riding centre nearby, you could also take your kid for such activities since they will find them very enjoyable and really love them.