Friday, June 24, 2011

A Swinging Good Time

My son hates swings. Or at least, he did until recently.

As I wrote in my recent Patch column, Kai has difficulty with motor coordination. He has trouble catching a ball, and never wanted to ride a tricycle, let alone a bicycle.

And he never goes on swings.

A couple of weeks ago, Kai went to a playground with another boy. While Kai much prefers going on slides, this other boy, who also has autism, loves swings and soars to amazing heights on them. That is one small example of how kids with autism can be very different.

For some reason, on this occasion, Kai surprised Mom by telling her that he wanted to go on a swing, too. So, my wife helped him on and gave him gentle pushes. Before, whenever we tried the swings, Kai stayed on for only a short time before jumping off. But this time he stayed on for a long time.

I could hardly believe it when they got home and my wife told me that Kai asked to go on a swing.

But, the other day, Kai and I made our way over to the local playground. Again, he went on a swing. As you can see by the picture, he actually seems to be enjoying it. I’ve got to work with him on moving his legs and body so that he can propel himself better, but this is a start.

Oh, what’s that? Yes, he is wearing a bicycle helmet. But, that is a story for another day.


  1. My son, Alex, is similar to Kai. He really doesn't know how to use a swing. A couple of weeks ago, we had visited my old Elementary School (in the heart of Silicon Valley - before it became Silicon Valley - Santa Clara)...and I had to push him on the playground swing set.

    Although we had a small swing set in our backyard...he rarely used it.

    I was also afraid that he would fall out of his seat backwards, since when he was smaller...his grip was very weak.

    It seems as though Kai wishes to improve to be like his peers...and, perhaps he has found that swinging is fun in its own right.

  2. Just curious if Alex is able to explain why a swing is so difficult for him.

    Kai's grip was also weak, but I was more afraid that he would fall forward. Sometimes he just jumped off the swing awkwardly instead of letting it come to a stop.

  3. Alex is very cautious by nature. He didn't like to swing very high. He would drag his feet to lower his arc. When he was of swing set age....his balance and coordination was off significantly in relation to his peers. That, combined with his, initially weak grip, lead to discombobulation on a platform that was already unstable to him. I showed him how to lean while holding on to the chains....he immediately said that if any slack appeared (as what happens at the apex of the swing if swung past 90 degrees) the chain could pinch his hands.

    I was actually glad at his answer...he is cautious...he is thinking forward. Even back then...I was very worried about when he gets old enough to drive. His great caution actually gives me a feeling of least a little.

    He never really enjoyed swinging much...just on the rare occasion that one of his cousins was swinging. He would just swing a little.

  4. Interesting. Thanks for the detailed explanation.

    I, too, worry about when my son gets old enough to drive. Right now, it is very difficult to picture him behind the wheel of a car. Too scary to think about! :)


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