A New Way for Special Needs Children to Connect Developing Sensory Processing, Gross Motor and Social Skills can be FUN
It’s called JumpTherapy and it’s changing the ground rules for developing skills in special needs children. JumpTherapy combines the stimulating, kid-friendly environment of an indoor inflatable bounce facility with the expertise of an occupational therapist. The program helps children with autistic spectrum disorders, ADHD and any motor or social difficulties develop sensory processing, gross motor and social skills.
Integrating a goal-oriented occupational therapy program with play, JumpTherapy was developed by Miriam Skydell and Associates, a pediatric therapy clinic based in Fair Lawn, NJ, to provide a unique sensory — and sensational — experience for children across all diagnoses. Experienced therapists work with small groups in indoor inflatable gymnasiums. “The facility really lends itself to working with the kids on sensory and movement skills, balance, and coordination,” says Miriam Skydell, owner of the practice, an occupational therapist for 30 years.
Social skills are a key focus of JumpTherapy. “We structure it so that the kids are building social and motor skills in an environment where their typically-developing peers often play — they have so much fun, they don’t believe it’s therapy,” Skydell adds.
The key to JumpTherapy’s success with children is using a natural play environment to develop important motor skills — balance, coordination, body awareness, motor planning, and bilateral integration — and facilitate social skills, such as eye contact, impulse control, turn taking, frustration tolerance, sportsmanship and teambuilding. The weekly sessions, which run in monthly segments year-round (one-week winter break camp and two-week summer camp sessions are also held), are designed for groups of 8 to 10 children, with one staff member to every two children.
And it’s not just the children who benefit. During each session, a free support group for parents is held in a separate room. Refreshments are provided as parents meet to discuss common issues and gain support from each other. “Having a support group during the session relieves the stress of parents needing to find coverage for their special needs child while they attend the group,” Skydell says.