If you have an autistic child, you’ve likely explored many different types of therapy for them. As a disorder which features difficulties in sensory processing, autism symptoms can often be treated by reducing sensory stimulus and replacing it with more comforting, repetitive motions.
One of these effective home-based therapies is the use of hammocks.
Thanks to social media, in recent years, people from all over the world are sharing their stories of how hammocks help their little ones live a more calm, comfortable life.
Here's what you need to know.
Autism is a broad condition that covers a vast spectrum of symptoms and behavioural side effects. Some children with autism have difficulty connecting to their peers while others may be unaffected. Oftentimes, children with autism are non-verbal and unable to handle large amounts of stimulus at once. In general, autistic children have difficulty processing sensory stimulus and tend to fixate on specific things that captivates them.
The cause of autism is not yet fully understood, and we only have a generic understanding of this condition. One thing is clear, though, children with autism understand the world a little differently.
Celebrations such as Autism Awareness Day have gone a long way towards explaining what autism is to the general public, but because it's such a unique, person-to-person disorder, it can be challenging to identify treatments that are effective for everyone. Despite this, there are some genuine reasons why a hammock could be beneficial to many autistic children, at either end of the spectrum.
The vestibular system is what controls your sense of movement and balance. If you spin around and then feel dizzy, that is because your vestibular system has been impacted. Autistic children frequently have sensory processing issues.
In order to block out unpleasant or unbearable senses, autistic children may "stim" through motion, such as rocking back and forth. This is one reason why movement therapy for autism is occasionally recommended.
Unfortunately, there is no known "cure" for autism. Rather, some treatments can reduce the negative impact of autism. A therapy hammock swing can potentially help with these symptoms for a few reasons:
Ultimately, a hammock can become a safe place for a child in which their senses aren’t overwhelmed.
Hammocks are known to be soothing to people, so it's no surprise that they could be soothing to neurotypical children as well. Many people find the repetitive, rocking motion of a hammock relaxing, but it also bring on a sense of comfort and safety. For children with autism, hammocks can be used to help with various difficulties including:
A hammock is a tool—and it's a tool that an autistic child can learn to use on their own. This makes it valuable, as it can empower children to take control and manage the challenges they face.
There are many types of treatment for autism, including things like weighted blankets. What makes a therapy hammock swing the ideal solution? Therapy hammocks:
And, of course, it's important to note again that every autistic child presents their autism a little differently. High-functioning autistic children will be able to verbally communicate whether they find their therapy hammock comforting while other children will communicate their comfort through body language or other non-verbal queues. It’s important to pay close attention to how they interact with their hammock to get a good understanding of how it positively affects them.
Hammocks do more than just help soothe children. Autistic children can do a lot in a hammock during their daily life:
Therapy hammocks will reduce their stress and anxiety over time, not just when they are experiencing a massive anxiety attack. By reducing stress and anxiety in general, you can reduce the chances of a more dramatic stress reaction.
Many of the principles behind hammocks have been shown to be instrumental in helping children with autism. These children benefit from rocking motions and enclosure, and a hammock is versatile and useful tool to be used for just about everything.
If you have a child with autism, it may be worth while to explore the possibility of adding a therapy hammock swing to your home. You can test out different hammocks to get a feel for what they are most comfortable with and see whether it has a positive effect.