Trampolines are great for children; they are great for blind children in particular. Many people had told us that. Charlotte has already posted a useful blog introducing Rebound therapy on a trampoline. What I had not quite appreciated were the ways in which the trampoline would become central to Ronan’s development over the past 6 months.
We first came across a full-size trampoline in a park when visiting friends in a different part of the country. At just over 2 years old, Ronan wasn’t heavy enough to make the trampoline spring on its own. I took him in my arms and started jumping with him. He shouted with excitement, laughing, and yelling “again, again, again”. Such extreme displays of pleasure and the use of actual words are very unusual for Ronan. His enthusiasm kept my tired arms and legs going for quite a while. It was clear that we needed a trampoline.
We bought a trampoline and even the smallest one took over our garden. It was a good thing that we spent at least an hour per day on it. The expected activity that we do on the trampoline is jump. First we jumped with Ronan in my arms and then we jumped holding hands. Ronan sometimes even jumps on his own. This keeps me fit and gives Ronan the movement he needs to calmly go to nursery school. Everyone knows a day when Ronan hasn’t been on the trampoline.
Jumping on the trampoline was only the start. Ronan loved running around the inside perimeter trailing his hand on the safety net and holding my hand while I stood in the middle. This is one of the few places that Ronan can confidently run at speed, because it doesn’t hurt if he falls. At some point, this running turned to exploring. He would start at the safety net entrance and then inch his way along until he got back to the entrance. A smile would then spread across his face as he realised he was back to the same place. He got the idea of a circle.
The trampoline also turned out to be a great place to throw balls with bells. Ronan would throw one of his balls, hear it land, and then it would roll back to him. He really tuned his sense of the relationship between space and sound as the journey back to him was always consistent. It was a great activity that he could do on his own, letting me get some gardening done.
Not least, the trampoline inspires more language than any other activity. The repetitive movement is great for singing songs, leaving blanks for Ronan to fill in. He said mum for the first time consistently when he wanted me to join him. The other day he sang a whole song with the words (although still missing the consonants). We had heard from other parents that language came quickest with movement, and that has been the case with Ronan.
It is not uncommon for us to spend the whole morning doing something on the trampoline, even occasionally just lounging in the sun. The trampoline has been great for Ronan’s balance and coordination as expected, it has also been key to the development of important concepts and language – a real struggle for us.