When my son Wilson was a little younger, we got homework from our occupational therapist. To get him on a swing.
We’re always searching for ways to give him vestibular (movement) input. Swinging is an excellent way and since he liked being rocked and swung in people’s arms, the next step was swinging.
But the logistics of this request were more difficult. At this age (and now) my son has no control of his head. He has severe hypotonia (muscle tone weakness). Sitting him in a typical baby swing is not an option. Most playgrounds do not have something his small, floppy body can handle.
So our best solution was to walk down to our neighborhood park, and I strapped him to me for about 3 minutes. I tried to hold his head and give a couple swings.
I didn’t feel secure; he didn’t feel secure. So we gave up and told our OT we tried.
A donut swing would be perfect for him. He could lay down and feel completely supported instead of feeling like he’s hanging. He could be swung gently and get the vestibular input he needs.
We wouldn’t expect typically developing children to go without simple play equipment like swings and slides, but that expectation seems different when your kid has a disability. Bigger playgrounds are making wonderful steps, but a large majority offer standard play equipment, often on wood chips, because that’s the cheaper option.
We cannot wait for the day our son can play at Bennett’s Village Play Space, and that day can’t come soon enough. A playground full of things he can access… with donut swings, play equipment that can accommodate a wheelchair, and safe places to take breaks or change him.