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Kids Safe Swing for Autistic Children with Autism

Updated on October 1, 2014

Our Eyes

Our delicate miraculous eyes help us to view our world. Let's protect our children from potential harm.
Our delicate miraculous eyes help us to view our world. Let's protect our children from potential harm.

Autism Can Be A Lonely Place

When a child lives in a bubble with little eye contact with others, as in the case of autism, then the world can seem very lonely. Listen to the music of Purple Ocean who creates this melodrama as a remembrance of watching a girl on a swing from his own childhood. These two elements paired together really make a statement and help us understand the feelings of the child. Unfortunately, the original YouTube video has been removed.

The video below is a replacement of feelings of someone who is alone in the dark, like a lonely child. In a way, the autistic child is living in the night. How can we bring them into the sunshine and the light?

The Lonely World of Autism

Well Coated Swing Chain

Shop for a well coated swing chain. It has many benefits.
Shop for a well coated swing chain. It has many benefits.

Swings Placate Children with Autism

Who Could Ever Imagine?

A recent article in the New York Times brought to our attention the potential hazards of a simple playground recreation for children. We think that children can possibly fall off a swing, or a little kid can walk in front of someone swinging and get hit, but did anyone imagine that the swinging motion itself could cause injury to the eye of a child?

Based upon recent observation of the frequency of autistic children visiting the eye doctor for metal splinters entering the eye, it was discovered that the repetitive motion of swinging can wear away metal fragments that can drop into the eyes of autistic children.

The difference between the behavior of a normal child who jumps on the swing, plays for a short while and then runs around the playground compared to an autistic child who does repetitive motions called 'sims' to self soothe creates this danger.

Like water wearing away stone, the rubbing of the gears causes friction enough to peel away slivers of metal. When I researched the swings, it became apparent that even the plastic coated chains only covered certain areas of the metal, which is safe in other ways that tiny fingers don't get squished or frozen from cold metal.

These metal fragments are probably microscopic or very tiny in size like dust particles or iron filings. This was why it was so difficult to realize how these foreign bodies entered the eye.

As a solution, perhaps the gears can be oiled frequently or the plastic coating can cover the areas that are rubbing together. I'm not sure whether the supervising parent can ask the child to move off the swing every so often to reduce the chance of this occurrence. Or perhaps the child can wear a hat. It says in the article that children should wear goggles as a solution. Dr Bonsall's other solution was to wrap the mechanism in material to catch the particles.

Just like kids wear helmets to ride a bicycle, now they will wear goggles in the playground. I don't know if these children will be cooperative, since many of them are sensitive to having fabrics and other coverings on their skin. I'm just glad that the cause of the injuries has been found.

It took some questioning and investigation to uncover what was happening in all cases. In one case described in the article, a 10-year-old boy came to an eye clinic at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with something lodged in his right eye, and the doctor, who had treated him once before for a similar problem, realized this was the child’s fourth such incident in three years.

Dr. Dean J. Bonsall, an associate professor of clinical ophthalmology at the University of Cincinnati searched for a common cause. “So I asked the mother to recall the child’s activities from the time that he wakes up to the time that he goes to bed.” He discovered the child spent hours each day on a homemade swing.


Safe Swings

Swing Belt w "Pinch-Free" Chain - Blue
Swing Belt w "Pinch-Free" Chain - Blue

Deluxe Swing Belt with Coated Chain - Blue


All Children Love To Swing

The difference between normal childhood behavior and what is happening in these cases is the time spent in just one repetitive activity. On one scale of the spectrum is ADHD with hyperactivity disorder when the child cannot sit still for any length of time as compared with Autism when the child lives in his own world and has little to no contact. Rocking, movement, swaying and swinging are ways to feel safe in a scary world.

What caught my eye in the video below was the soundlessness of it all, depicting to me the quiet and separation of the child to his world. Actually, this is most likely not an autistic child, but an artistic expression of a day in the life of a child. 

Twirling On A Swing

Observe the Action of the Swing

The original video posted here has been removed, In its place is a child 'twirling' on a swing made with a natural string material, rather than metal which could splinter and cause medical issues.

I do believe that spinning and twirling are both helpful to mental development, balancing, stability and eliminating potential vertigo as the inner ears are exercised as if at astronomy camp. In addition, it appears 'twirling' may encourage looking 'down' rather than looking 'up.'

I have lost the video that specifically illustrates the action of the swing of metal grinding upon metal. This can be seen when the plastic chain covering only goes up halfway. Kids have such a great time swinging. Do you remember looking up to the sky when you swung, as a kid?

As a side note: Silica is a homeopathic remedy used to help the body expel foreign materials such as splinters.

Notice the Coated Chain

Disclaimer: This Information is for Educational Purposes Only

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    • MomsTreasureChest profile image

      MomsTreasureChest 5 years ago

      Wonderful article thanks for taking the time to provide such great insight!

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 5 years ago

      Hi Marisa ~ You must be an incredible mom. These autistic children teach parents so much about patience and love. Coping each day with the little things, worrying about their health, friendships, concerned about their future, learning what calms and comforts these kids. Thank you for sharing your experience. It's a whole new world with so many children affected by this illness. Your little one sounds like he has grown quite a bit and doing well under your care. Hugs, Debby

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      Hi Debby - playground concerns. I tease my kids that I'd put them in a rubber tire and a hamster ball if I could - lol

      Well, I'm an autie mom. My son is 13 and has autism. Swings are definitely a comfort for him. His favorite game and 'ride' as a toddler was when he'd lay right on top of me. I'd wrap my arms tightly around him and roll from right to left as fast as I could. This brought him soooooo much comfort and gave me PLENTY if exercise! lol I can't do that with him anymore, he is taller than me now :)

      Now that he is older I can usually find him on his swing after school. This seems to be where he winds down at the end of a long school day - he usually repeats the days events (delayed echolalia). Jumping in place is his other favorite form of stimming.

      Nice hub - thanks for sharing

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 7 years ago

      Hi Hello, Hello - Glad you popped on over. Always enjoy your input. Weren't you going to join my website? Debby

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      That is a wonderful help and advice. Thank you for sharing.

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 7 years ago

      Dear BkCreative ~ My goodness, all the things that can happen in a playground, you would think special architectural design engineers would keep "safety" in mind as the number one priority.

      I'm a worrier about child safety to begin with, so hard surfaces like metal and concrete can be frightening places to let the children run wild. We might also think playgrounds would be build within shaded areas for comfort. The playgrounds in my area are built up with wooden boarders [which I like to walk on like a balance beam] and there used to be sand inside, now there is manmade materials. I don't know if it is rubber-based or plastics.

      All in all, the children should be supervised by adults. Maybe if more parents and grandparents wrote letters to the town, city and manufacturers of these types of equipments and community designs there would be a change for the better.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      What an informative article. I mean - who would think of this - yet we all need to be aware.

      It is shocking just how dangerous so-called playgrounds and play sets can be. From the time many years ago when I played with friends in playgrounds that had no rubber padding beneath us - just concrete, insuring brain damage if we fell - unfortunately, much of the rubber padding used since then is toxic.

      Can you believe a fortune has just been spent on a playground here in NYC with giant steel domes for children to climb on - it's a major part of the playground. Of course when the sun shines on the domes they heat up to 120 degrees and children have been burned. Who thinks of this?

      Perhaps they should never be called playgrounds but 'safegrounds' so we will have a minimum safety standard for all children - and safety will come before appearances.

      Thanks for an informative hub!