The occupational therapy needs of students have changed over the years. In the past, schools had occupational therapists work mostly on fine motor skills. Young students would focus on pincer grasp with their writing utensils. Occupational therapy sessions would also work on how to cut with scissors and proper formation of their letters. These skills continue to be done, but there is a lot more happening in sessions along with the more traditional work. The increasing number of children with sensory processing concerns have meant that school districts have to address this and assist the children to be more successful in their academic lives. Occupational therapists now work with students that have sensory integration needs and more.
Over the years, research has shown that occupational therapy patients benefit from using swings – more specifically, occupational therapy swings that are used during sessions to work with patients on a wide variety of their needs. School occupational therapists have watched this closely and many are implementing the swings into their sessions. Different swings are used for a variety of things. Swinging in general is a component of sensory integration therapy. It helps to calm the sensory needs of children and allows them to head back to a classroom and focus better on their school work. Many schools have a room where kids with sensory needs are allowed to go if they are feeling overwhelmed. The swinging helps them to feel better to the point where they are able to get back to work.
There are a variety of occupational therapy swings available for kids of different age, sizes, and needs. As a school and district, you must look at the needs of your students. Would you benefit more from a bolster swing, a cocoon swing, or perhaps a sling swing? No matter which you choose, be sure to figure out how to accommodate older grades of elementary, middle and high school children that may need this type of therapy. One problem with the swings is the cost. In addition to this, the swings need a dedicated safe and quiet space where they may be used during sessions. Sometimes these items and spaces are not in the budget for a school and or district. Think outside of the box and work with school community to work on fund raisers to make them affordable. Be sure to have a clear explanation for others on why they are so beneficial for a large portion of children with special needs, including those on the autism spectrum.