So, we made some cool therapy swings for Paige in the basement. Weeeee!
Let me be the first to say we are not swing experts; but used the suggestions of a very well respected Occupational Therapist/Dr. after observing her own swings in her own clinic in her basement. If you use our following suggestions, we are not responsible for injuries or damages! Try this stuff at your own risk. These are HOME MADE therapy swings.
First, we secured the swings to a floor joist in the basement. This is the only kind of place that can support this kind of weight; you know? We used one of those huge 6 inch anchoring screws. Here's a photo of one:
We made an inner tube swing. I went to tire shop that specializes in tires for commercial trucks, tractors, etc. They sell lots of sizes of inner tubes and I told them what sort of size I needed (big, and about 4 feet-ish for the tire) and we guessed. The tube is a touch smaller than I'd planned, but it still works great. They blew the tire up for me. Also, I didn't get it used because it would have black residue all over it. eeeek.
There was a HUGE nozzle thingie coming off the tube so I had to wrap it in duct tape around and around the tire to secure it against the tire so it wasn't sticking out. Aesthetics are not important with this stuff.
Chris secured some rope (the kind that supports 250 pounds of weight or something) to the tire and to a carabiner (from Home Depot) which is all connected to the giant screw in the ceiling. You can sort of study the photo to see the setup. Chris made a sort of "chain" out of the rope, so if the tire needs to raise up or down in height, it can simply link into one of those little holes. You can sort of see them in the photo tailing off to the left.
We have a huge old mattress underneath the swing for safety. Paige likes to drape her body through the middle hole and lay on her belly. She then sort of runs around and swings in circles and left to right, super-hero style.
The trick to this is to raise the tire high enough to keep Paige from wanting to lean all the way through to try and touch the mattress with her hands. She was constantly falling out of the tire on her head. So, we got the height up enough so that she didn't dare try to lean forward to touch. She just knows it's too far down to reach.
This kind of swinging is something I remember from my elementary school days on the regular strap swings at the playground. I would lie on my belly and swing. But, Paige can't reach those yet and this allows her more circling movement since it's hanging from one point. If the tire were bigger, and when Paige gets older, she could SIT in the middle hole (like sitting on a horse) and hug it. She could hold a stretchy piece of therapy band or fabric with me holding the other end to pull her all different directions on the swing. It's relaxing and fun. Just ideas.
So, that's the inner tube swing. The point of it is to give Paige deep pressure sensory input through her belly while she satisfies her need for spinning and swinging. After time on this swing, Paige is more alert, focused, and "organized." Her language usage spikes and she is able to express herself so much better. I'm told this is because the swing gives her body the sensory input it needs so she can focus on the tasks at hand. It sort of "tunes out" all the things that distract her so she can concentrate and focus. It's like it clears out the cobwebs and suddenly she's able to be in the moment. Her motor skills also become more refined and exact. I'm told this is because she has a better feel for where her body is in space, thus moving more carefully.
No matter what, I LOVE this swing and what it does for her.
The other swing; with the same sorts of benefits and uses is the hammock/blanket swing.
This swing is made of stretchy fleece and acts like a hammock. It works like a blankie taco with Paige as the filling. LOL. It is hanging from the same kind of screw and rope set up that the inner tube has.
I got 3 yards of the stretch fleece (fabric stores or Walmart carries it) and I sewed a sort of pocket into each end. The pocket is about a foot wide (I folded the pocket over to the 24 inch mark in). I sewed across, but using several little vertical lines to keep it from ripping apart from the weight of the person inside. Here's a photo of the tons of little vertical lines. You can see if you look closely.
Once all sewed, I threaded each pocket onto a U-Bolt piece of hardware I found at Ace hardware that looks like this: (it's a big one; maybe 5 inches or 6 inches across).
If you look at the diagram in that link, you can see a sort of plate with nuts on the other side that keep the plate on. I also got 2 more nuts to go on the other side of the plate and tightened both together to keep them from just unscrewing over time. In all, I got 2 u-bolts and 4 additional nuts.
Anyway, I threaded this through each pocket and secured all the nuts. I was left with what looks like a gigantic blue handbag. LOL. I simply put the two handles onto a carabiner and clipped it to the rope. The rope was tied with many loops, again, for easy height adjusting.
We have ours hanging mere inches off the floor because we use it for Paige to lay on her belly with her arms out. Her arms touch the floor so she can move herself in different directions and in circles. We often spread puzzle pieces out all over the place and she has to "fly around" to gather them and put them into the puzzle. She gets a lot of input in her stomach and has fun all the while. It also satisfies her need to swing and spin. She also loves to "be an airplane" with her arms out to the sides while I push her back and forth and all around.
Also, she can lay on her back inside the hammock with her knees bent gently. She gets lost in there! I gently sway her from side to side while she rests. It's very calming and relaxing for her when she's in the mood for it.
I intend to provide photos of these swings in action once I get Chris down there to help her swing while I take the photos.
I hope this post made some sort of sense. I'm no engineer nor am I an expert at explaining things! I hope the photos can do all the talking; let me know if you need any clarification.
And please know that Paige doesn't always want to do the swings even when she needs them. I encourage her by saying some beloved toy wants to swing. "C'mon Paige! Big dinosaur wants to swing! Let's go!" or "Dollie really wants to swing, lets help her!" We give the toy a turn and inevitably Paige wants a turn after that. But I NEVER force her to do it. It's totally up to her in terms of when she starts and when she stops. She has full control. We like to try and do it first thing in the morning when she's most alert and up for things. Also, supposedly, this sort of intense sensory activity has up to 5 hours of lasting "organizing" input. That's a lot of bang for the activity! Ideally, we would do this activity twice per day (morning and mid-day) but I haven't gotten her to do it that frequently yet. We're working on it!
So, there you have it.