Trampolines For Special Needs Children

There’s no doubt that kids love to bounce and trampolines are among the favourite outdoor toys kids want. Special needs children are no different – fun is fun, regardless of your ability or skills.

Special needs is a broad brushed generalization that encompasses physical as well as mental limitations. Whether the condition is autism, reduced vision, physical limitations or learning challenges, spending time on a trampoline can positively impact your child in many ways.

a child enjoying time on a trampoline

Sensory Skills

Children with limited or reduced vision often have problems with coordination and eye-hand coordination may be non-existent.

Bouncing is repetitive and your child is in constant motion. It requires the eye to constantly move and adjust as the field of vision changes. This ‘vision exercise’ can improve your child’s ability to focus and improve eye-hand coordination.

Using the trampoline in conjunction with simple visual exercises can strengthen his or her visual skills and give your child a sense of accomplishment and confidence.

Motor Skills

Regular use of a trampoline helps to strengthen bones, develop muscle tone and improves balance and kinesthetic responsiveness.

When they’re bouncing, children develop balance and how to position their body to do certain movements. Young children develop large motor skills while learning how to do basic bounce maneuvers.

Developing muscle mass and strengthening bone density aids children who have physical limitations. By maximizing their strength and agility, they are able to move more independently and develop self-confidence.

Bouncing increases a child’s ability to integrate their movements into coordinated, full body motions and increases their spatial awareness.

Social Skills

For many special needs children, social skills are a real challenge. With a trampoline children are encouraged to interact with each other and parents and other adults.

Since only one child should be allowed on a trampoline at a time, there’s a lot of waiting. This time can be a learning experience for things like waiting for their turn, interaction with other children in the group and joining group activities like singing, counting bounces and clapping.

Children learn how to act in a group setting and interact with others not in their immediate circle of family. This is also an opportunity to reinforce appropriate behavior.

Following Instructions

Because there are specific guidelines for anyone using a trampoline, children need to learn and follow their instructor’s rules. They learn to listen and remember what is allowed and not permitted. They will also learn that if they don’t follow the instructor’s rules, there will be consequences.

Learning to follow directions is a basic skill that comes easier for some children than others, but when paired with the fun of bouncing, it may not be nearly as difficult.

Blow Off Steam And Burn Calories

Many special needs children are somewhat sedentary while others have way too much energy. Both these categories of children can benefit through trampoline jumping.

For the sedentary child, bouncing is a good form of exercise that exercises and strengthens all the body’s muscles as well as burns calories and improves coordination. Increased mobility can give a child more energy and help with general health such as aerobic and circulatory stimulation.

For the over-active child, a trampoline can get rid of that excess energy. With a good, vigorous workout, children are able to settle down and focus.
Check with your local trampoline center to see if they have special needs instructors and classes. These coaches have additional training to deal with individual requirements and the classes they offer have a smaller student to teacher ratio than regular classes.

If you start out at a trampoline center, you may find the benefits of working with a group of other children is so beneficial, you’ll continue to make it a regular part of your child’s routine. You may also decide to buy a trampoline for home use.

If so, educate yourself in becoming a great special needs coach for your child if you decide to bounce at home. You both will enjoy the time you spend together, and the whole family will enjoy the benefits and share the fun of a trampoline.

Rick Mason