Occupational therapists use swing therapy for children with sensory processing disorders. Sensory processing disorder is when the brain has difficulty to receive and respond to information that comes through the body’s senses. Swing therapy can help sensory integration by giving the child exposure to new sensory experiences, which include body awareness, touch, sound, and sight. Sensory integration can also include input from the vestibular system. The vestibular system is responsible for our balance, spatial awareness and movement. These new sensory experiences allows the brain to process the sensations the body is feeling and organize it into information. Occupational therapists use different types of swings according to what they are targeting in therapy. Below we will talk about swings that occupational therapist might use during therapy.
A platform swing is a square carpeted wooden platform hung from 4 ropes. This type of swing offers tilting movements. The occupational therapist use this swing when working on balance, strengthening the core, correcting postural adjustments, and body awareness. The child can sit, stand, kneel, or lay down on the platform swing.
A net swing is another type of swing that is used during an occupational therapy session. Net swings are made out of netted rope that comes up around the child and are hung from 2 sides. This type of swing offers side to side movements. They are used to cradle the child to feel calm and protected. Occupational therapists use net swings during therapy to work on sensory integration and strength. The child can sit or lay prone in the net swing.
Buoy Ball Swing
A buoy ball swing is a more challenging swing that occupational therapists use. This swing consists of a large ball that is connected to a bar by 2 ropes, which go through the bar and then hung from the ceiling. This type of swings allows for an orbiting motion. The buoy ball swing is great for exercise for the child during therapy. The child uses the bar to sit on the swing which helps work fine motor skills such as hand grips, and targets motor planning and balance.
A cuddle swing is a stretchy fabric that looks like a cocoon hanging from the ceiling. The swinging motion of the cuddle swing helps to sooth a child who may be overwhelmed by the environment. The occupational therapist can use the cuddle swing to work on the child’s strength and body coordination or to calm the child down by playing music while the child swings.