Our First Sensory Jump Experience
JACKSON IS 2 YEARS OLD!! The time has passed so quickly but we couldn’t be more excited to watch him grow. We did have a little party for him at a friends house in celebration [I’ll include some pictures at the end] but as a gift to him from Matt & I, we went for an experience over a physical gift.
To read about why we don’t ‘do presents’, CLICK HERE
Through his therapy sessions, we’ve learned trampolines are a GREAT source of input for him. Ironically, a very well known trampoline gym is just 10 minutes up the road from us. I was looking into potentially having Jackson’s birthday party there when I saw they offered a SENSORY JUMP for 1 hour once a month.
WHAT’S A SENSORY JUMP?
It’s when they have the entire trampoline gym open to kids with sensory stuff & their caregiver for an hour. No music, just jumping with other kids like them.
I had no idea what to expect. I hadn’t even been inside the trampoline gym before! I was envisioning a decent sized area with some sort of barrier with the trampoline floor & a few kids just bouncing around. Nothing too extravagant but it serves it’s purpose.
Just walking in, I was blown away. It was almost like a Dave & Busters because there was a little arcade to the right, an inflatable section to my left then an entire massive room of trampolines. We got there a little before 10am & were greeted by a women asking if we were here for Sensory Jump. I said yes & told her I still needed to sign a waiver. Once we filled it out for J & myself & was getting ready to pay, I said to the lady “this is so great that you guys have this!” & I could already feel myself getting emotional just hearing the words I was saying & seeing the kids jumping behind her. We turned the corner to see a long row of cubbies for our stuff & we changed into the special jumping socks ‘that make you jump higher’.
I’m starting to tear up just imagining this next part. As I was putting the socks on J, he kept turning around to look through the fence at all the kids jumping. We then walked up the ramp to the main floor where he took off & I let him go. I kept a safe distance because he was still feeling it all out but was still looking up to see me. Obviously, he’s used to bouncing on trampolines but not used to the entire floor bouncing with him.
While Jackson took in his new surrounding, I looked around too. There were at least 20 kids there with a 2:1 ratio of parents/caregivers. I was obviously the newbie because they other adults were either sitting down watching from the sidelines or out on the trampolines with the kids playing with them. I was being cautious of everything but still trying to snap photos of J..
He quickly warmed up to everything but didn’t really start jumping. Was more feeling the ‘running on the bouncy floor’ vibe which was also totally fine. He realized the barriers between the trampoline paths weren’t bouncy & you could walk normally on them. From watching the other kids, he tried climbing the half pipe walls then would slide down. He was getting to be a kid & I was getting in my feels..
It was when I had a brief interaction with one of the Dad’s that nearly had me in tears. Jackson was clearly the youngest one there, the oldest being maybe 11 or 12? All kids showing some sign of Autism or SPD - some with headphones on, some non-verbal & others staying in one section doing the same thing over & over. The oldest looking kid was zooming from wall to wall at a pretty good speed & bouncing wherever he went. At one point, he zoomed right past J but I wasn’t too concerned. Right after, his Dad bounced up to me & said “I apologize for that near interaction. He’s severely autistic & we’re working on his spacial awareness with others.” “No need to apologize at all!” Then he took off to chase his son down again..
I don’t know why that extremely brief interaction did me in but I found myself standing on one of the platforms just staring out at Jackson. This was a place where he could be as free as he could. This was a place where I could let him be as free as he could with little worry. The freedom of a field with barriers & sensory input.. This was a place he could be with other kids like him [the amount of parallel play with SO many kids at once was insane]. This was a place for Jackson & I. & because all the parents are used to always being on the ready, all kids has some eyes on them at some point, whether they were theirs or not. It was like an unspoken acknowledgment. You know that rule if your kid gets lost, they should find another Mommy with kids & she’ll know what to do? It was exactly that but with our special kids & that feeling of reassurance did me in. As I moved with J to different areas, I started tearing up just soaking it all in & watching him enjoy himself. I didn’t have any words, just feelings & I completely let myself go.
After the hour was done, we put our shoes back on & walked back to the van. Once in & stopped at the first light, I started to bawl. I was completely overwhelmed by the joy of seeing Jackson happy like that. We’ve always known J plays & learns differently. We didn’t need the diagnosis to confirm that. But there’s always the thought that Jackson won’t be able to play like others. He won’t be able to have that freedom to play how HE wants, not with other kids. Then to be in this environment & witness it first hand - SO much weight was lifted from my shoulders as a parent of a kid with Autism. I don’t know if I’m explaining it to the fullest degree or if it’s even possible. But both J & I were outrageously happy.
We then got home where Matt was waiting for us & he asked me how it went.. “I know you’re gonna make fun of me but I cried. & I’m gonna start crying again talking to you about it now..” & the tears flowed. I explained to him everything I just typed out, showed him pictures & just looked at J. I looked back at Matt to continued talking & he was wiping tears from his eyes.. It’s just an unspoken feeling - that reassurance. & we felt it.
The Sensory Jump at Velocity Air Sports is an hour every second Sunday of the month. I can only hope that more places have accommodations like this & I’m sure they do, I just need to learn of them. But this is a blessing to my family & believe we will going every month.
If you’d like to see a couple video of Jackson running around at the gym, follow my Instagram!
As I said at the beginning, we celebrated Jackson’s birthday at a friend house with a little StoryBots themed party [that’s Bang, his favorite character] behind us! Thank you to Brittanee for hosting us & thanks to everyone that came out & respected our gift list!