It took over five years to get our daughter’s conditions diagnosed. We moved to a new state in between all of the doctor appointments and it was a very long journey.
Her first neurologist couldn’t figure out her diagnosis. He looked at me that last day I saw him and said, “She is a little girl who needs a lot of therapy.” He also encouraged me to go to Phoenix Children’s Hospital when we got settled into our new home and get a second opinion.
During that time, we were encouraged to start Occupational Therapy (OT). I had no idea what that was or what it could do for her. I started reading and learning what OT was and why it’s important for people with disabilities.
Our OT life includes sensory-rich activities. Developing a “sensory-rich diet” was a new concept for me too. I thought it meant food, but it means activities. If there’s one thing I’ve learned being a special needs parent, it’s that adults use large, complicated words and phrases to describe something so simple. Keep them active and use activities that help their minds and bodies learn to work together.
We live in an area where the summer climate keeps us from enjoying a lot of outdoor activities. It’s just too hot during the day. I found a small trampoline for kids. It had a 110 lb. weight capacity and a bar to hold for support. It changed our world.
Jumping has so many benefits. Jumping on a trampoline helps develop gross motor skills and balance. It also provides vestibular motion feedback and sensory input for the brain. It can be calming and relaxing while improving body awareness.
An OTA gave us a few game ideas to include with the trampoline. My daughter loved the alphabet game. Here’s how we created it.
What You Need
- Kids trampoline – follow safety and weight capacity guidelines
- Have your child write out the alphabet. For my daughter, I write dots and she traces the letters with a crayon.
- Cut the letters out so you have the 26 letters of the alphabet.
- You can also buy alphabet flash cards if you don’t want to do letter writing and cutting.
- Grab your tape.
- Set your trampoline near a wall where your child can tape the letters.
- Get the water ready for jumping breaks.
Time to Jump
- Stand near the trampoline with the letters and tape in hand.
- Have your child jump once for “A” and then she or he gets off the trampoline.
- He or she will grab the letter from you.
- Stick the “A” to the wall and then repeat.
- Two jumps for “B” and grab the letter, stick it to the wall.
- Three jumps for “C” and grab the letter, stick it to the wall.
You can complete the whole alphabet or work on a few letters at a time. You can also use numbers. My daughter called out the letters with each jump, always starting at the beginning of the alphabet. It’s a great way to learn the ABCs.
We played the game many times and took many water breaks in between. It’s a lot of exercises! It’s also an opportunity to write, cut, jump and learn. You can join in the jumping too.
What games do you play with your kids?