Hammocks as Autism Therapy


There are many therapeutic methods for treating Autism, one of which is found in the woven canopy of a hammock.image

Hammocks have recently broken ground as a tool in treating all psychosomatic disorders—that is, brain disorders that affect both the brain and the body through imbalances in the brain. Practitioners like Dr. Dieter Breithecker understand the benefits of using hammocks to increase brain stimulation through physical imbalance, which serves to counter the mental imbalance. Autism, which is a psychosomatic disorder itself, is no exception—the disorder and its symptoms can be effectively treated through the gentle rocking of a hammock.

As a disorder, Autism has a negative effect on the social and physical tendencies of individual. It includes a spectrum of other more specific disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrome and other lesser-known diagnoses. These diagnoses are “characterized by social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors,” according to autismspeaks.org.

Dario Aimola, the father of an autistic child, explained that autistic tendencies differ from person to person. In describing the habits of Davide, his four-year-old boy, Aimola mentioned a lack of eye contact, an inability to talk, crying for no reason, and staring at nothing for several minutes at a time.

“Autism is not a sickness,” Aimola said of his son. “Autism is a different lifestyle.”

Aimola went on to mention that he has had success with a few different methods of treating Davide’s disorder. For instance, he has shown his son YouTube videos on how to perform simple tasks like playing with building blocks. But when it comes to finding a practical, conventional way to peacefully retreat, Aimola has found that Davide finds his greatest peace of mind in a hammock.

“At home, my son uses his hammock as a ‘peace oasis,’” Aimola said. “He likes it because he can spread himself out in a snuggly hanging bag.”

Enjoying this type of relaxation makes perfect sense—people with Autism tend to find positive stimulation in the tactile rubbing of the skin or in rocking from side to side, according to Stephen M. Edelson, Ph.D. Such motions and sensations allow for a sense of clarity in an autistic child’s mind.

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As a rule, individuals with autism, no matter how severe, need motion for proper brain function. This concept can be thought of in the same way that one thinks of a circus performer balancing a sword on their chin. The performer’s movements keep the object (or in this case, the brain) in balance. When a person with autism is thinking about something, it is not uncommon to see them making repetitive body motions such as pacing or, as afore mentioned, rocking. With these things in mind, it follows that a hammock, which includes rocking and swinging as some of its primary functions, is ideal for providing the stimulation needed for proper brain balance.

But lying and rocking in a hammock does far more than simply balance the brain and stimulate the senses on a superficial level. Dr. Breithecker pointed out that rocking in a hammock also improves the overall quality of neuronal processes.

“Swinging, rocking and balancing are basic activities that stimulate our sense of balance, which is controlled by an important part of sensory system located in the inner part of our ears,” Breithecker explained. “Kids have to do those activities for development … The developing process of the brain—the growth and the synaptic switching of nerve cells—require physical activities particular to those which stimulate the sense of balance.”

Therapists have taken the concept of rocking and balancing and have run with it—companies that specialize in mental development in children with special needs now make hammock and swing products that are specifically designed to stimulate a healthy imbalance in the child’s brain. These products are specially made for the specific purpose of generating stimulatory movements for children who need it for brain development and stimulation.

While these devices undoubtedly serve those who need it, they often are significantly more expensive than an ordinary hammock. The beauty of an ordinary hammock is that it is a device that many already have in their homes or their backyard. Because of this, it is often a highly convenient option to use a hammock for stimulatory therapy. For children especially, hanging nests provide a relaxing haven, allowing them to feel both safe and stimulated. 

When it comes to Autism, there is no set method for treatment. Each person is affected differently by the disorder and must be treated for their individual circumstance. However, when going about this, a hammock is a great place to start. It is inexpensive, can be used for many purposes, and provides all of the functions for brain stimulation that an individual with autism needs.

There are many ways to sit in a hammock. How many of them do you know?

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