Children love jumping and climbing, there is no denying it. However, children with Autism, also known as ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), can at times jump and climb excessively – to a point where parents end up frustrated and exhausted. So why do so many children with autism jump and climb excessively?
The answer to this question is a simple one: “your child is seeking input!”
Occupational therapists refer to this type of input as Proprioceptive input – which basically means: “the input that the body receives through its joints and muscles”
The Proprioceptive system is located in our muscles and joints. It provides us with a sense of body awareness.
By jumping on the couch or by climbing the kitchen counter your child is obtaining this input and after they have received this input they may become calmer and have an increased awareness of their surroundings. Proprioceptive input can be very calming for those children that are easily overwhelmed by sensory stimuli.
Jumping and climbing are however not always safe and can lead to many accidents. It can also become disruptive to the child’s learning. Many learners with autism also seek Proprioceptive input in order to regulate their emotional and behavioural responses to sensory stimulation.
Here are a few ideas for Proprioceptive activities that you can incorporate into your child’s day that will help reduce the need for them to jump and climb:
- Pushing and pulling activities also knows as resistance activities
- Lifting heavy objects or weight bearing activities
- Doing push-ups (if the child is able to) or jumping on a trampoline.
- Deep pressure applied directly to the joints and bear-hugs
- Chewing activities (Oral activities) – such as the introduction of a chew-necklace or blowing bubbles.
Proprioceptive input can be both a powerful and amazing tool for your child but is by no means a “one-size-fits all” situation. You will need to know what technique to use and when to use it in order to maximize the benefit for your child.
We highly recommend that you consult with an experiences Autism Sensory Integration Occupational Therapist because he/she will be able to teach you the different techniques, what they are and when to offer them – because getting the right input can be a game changer not just in your child’s behaviour but with attention in class and even their ability to sleep better.
Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school in Johannesburg offers Individualized Education Programs, ABA, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum. Read more about this Johannesburg Autism School here.