That trampolines are a favourite to many children in the autism spectre, is no secret to us. But that they can be so effective in promoting verbal communication, was a surprise to me.
Some weeks ago I was jumping around in the trampoline with Jamie, a 6 year-old, non-verbal boy from Virginia. We didn´t know each other particularly well yet, but I had access to his long-term nanny before meeting him, which gave me a big advantage. As an expert on his behaviour, her advise was crucial to me.
"He loves to jump on the trampoline“ - she said. "And I think he is the happiest when he is jumping."
Following the expert´s suggestion, I opened the front door and granted access to the huge trampoline in the front yard. Jamie never communicated verbally apart from using a very few words around the house.
After 30 minutes jumping together in the trampoline, he opened his arms in my direction asking with body language to be tossed up in the air.
"Great!“, I thought. Encouraging non-verbal communication can lead to verbal communication. I tossed him up in the air various times, before starting to ask for a few words. Holding him under his arms I counted with him.
"One, two, three! And up you go!“
"One, two,.. three! And up you go!“
"One, two, ……..three! Up you go!“
"three!“ he continued.
"Great“, I thought again! "Those are his first words with me!“
After repeating this for a few times, I asked him to use a sentence he had learned to use with his mom.
Whenever he opened his arms, I said:
"What do you want?“ and I would answer immediately after, "I want up."
"What do you want? … I want up.“
"What do you want?… I want up.“
"What do you want?"
"I want up“ - he replied.
I was very happy!
We communicated verbally with the magic help of my friends: Zero Pressure, Movement, Fun and a Trampoline!