Do you ever have days when the kids are literally climbing the walls? These products are a godsend for those times, especially when you're stuck inside due to sub-zero blizzard-like conditions (New Hampshire, anyone?). They're also wonderful as part of a sensory diet "menu", to help provide a child with the sensory input that they crave in a healthy, fun way. Most of them also help with motor planning, core strength, and gross motor skills to boot!
Both of my kids have the Ikea Ekorre Hanging Swing hanging in their rooms, and use them for relaxing, reading, calming linear swinging, and mostly spinning (they like to either wind up each other and their friends, or use their feet to propel the chair if they're alone). They're also nice for a child who is feeling overwhelmed and needs a dark, cozy little nook to hang out in.
SPRI Balance Pods are so fun for encouraging balance during obstacle courses, or helping a child learn to hop and jump over rows of them. They can also throw matching beanbags at them to work on target practice. The fun part about these is that they're as much of a therapeutic tool for a 4 year old as a 40 year old, because you can flip them curved-side down for an even higher level of challenge. I've even had some of my older kids kneel on two, with their hands on another two and work on reaching and balancing in a quadropod position...it's so much harder than it looks, and is a phenomenal core strengthening exercise!
The Alex Active Play Monkey Balance Board is a classic OT tool. I use it in most sessions, and we can work on multiple goals at once in a fun way. Usually, the kids will stand on the balance board and throw a balloon or weighted medicine ball back and forth. Once they've mastered that skill, they can practice standing sideways to the person with whom they're playing, and work on crossing midline while throwing - this is quite challenging for most kids! If they have a pitchback ball return net at home, the child can practice bouncing a soft rubber ball off and then catching it. A trampoline slightly propped against a wall is another way to make a ball return net.
The Gorilla Gym doesn't require hardware, and installs onto a doorframe in seconds. It has a swing, trapeze, rope ladder, and rope attachments. Both are sensory diet and gross motor development tools that anyone can benefit from...and, they're a blast! What child wouldn't want a jungle gym in their house?
Kristen M. Goodrich, OTR/L
I'm a pediatric occupational therapist with a clinic space in Epping, NH. I also see a limited number of clients within the community. I graduated from Boston University, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences in 2003, and have worked in various pediatric settings, including early intervention, adaptive camps, outpatient clinics, schools, and community as well as clinic-based services through my own practice Seacoast Play Works Therapy, PLLC.