The most underutilized room in most people’s homes is… I can hear a lot of you jumping in to complete the sentence, “…the living room.”
It’s true, isn’t it?
Almost every time I visit friends, we walk through the living room but rarely stay there. The living room is where the decorative furniture is. You know, the ones that look like they’re from a showroom. They always look new because they’ve never been used, and they never appear to be very comfortable. Rather, they look stiff, and don’t entice you to sit in them anyway. The really comfy, cozy furniture is almost always located in the family room.
In our case, we didn’t even bother with the unused furniture. We have had hardly anything in our living room since we moved in. We put our sofa and coffee table in our family room and figured that we would get furnishings for the living room later on. But as we became accustomed to spending most of our leisure time in the family room or the playroom, furnishing the living room just wasn’t high on our list of priorities.
When our son was younger, we occasionally used the open space to play ball. On his third birthday, Kai got a t-ball set. As it was still winter and too cold to play ball outside, we set up a mini baseball diamond in the living room with the bases near each corner. The ball was plastic, and Kai could barely hit it anyway, so there was never any danger of anything getting broken.
We’ve also similarly used the living room for makeshift soccer games. But we really didn’t use it for much else.
That is until recently when we got a new piece of furniture for our living room recently. Well, it isn’t exactly “furniture.” But it is in our living room.
We got a trampoline.
Therapeutic effect, and fun, too!
Children with autism often have imbalanced sensory systems. This results in deficiencies in their vestibular system, which provides spatial orientation, and the proprioceptive system, which provides perception of the relative position of body parts. In other words, those with deficiencies lack the awareness of their own body’s position and how it responds to movement through space.
Trampolines have a therapeutic effect on these malfunctioning sensory systems. The bouncing action is soothing, and the use of the muscles and the movement acts to help integrate the body’s different sensory systems to overcome the deficiencies.
But going on the trampoline isn’t just good therapy. Children with autism almost universally seem to love it.
Whenever Kai goes with us to visit friends who also have kids with autism, he goes to the trampoline first and returns often, jumping and laughing with glee. He also loves bouncing at those places with the giant inflatables. So, it was a no brainer to think that he would love having his own trampoline at our house.
Of course, most people keep their trampoline in their basement or outside. Our basement is very small, and has a low ceiling, so putting a trampoline there was not an option. And with all the crazy weather we have, we decided that an outdoor trampoline would not get much use.
My wife was the one to suggest our living room.
I resisted. It wasn’t because I thought it was a crazy idea. Actually, I did not think it was crazy at all. You see, I had been harboring a similar thought of one day getting an air hockey table for that space. I just hadn’t gotten the courage to ask my wife about it yet.
But as I thought about having a trampoline, I knew that Kai would enjoy it. I knew it would be good for him. So, I relented.
When I assembled it, it was bigger than I imagined. It took up almost all of the space in the room.
But Kai took to it right away. He goes on it first thing in the morning. He jumps on it immediately after coming home from school. He will even take a break from dinner to jump for a few minutes before sitting back down at the table. Seeing the pleasure it brings him warms my heart. Bah, I didn’t need an air hockey table anyway.
So, now we are a “trampoline in our living room” family. Not very typical, I know. But, our son is not typical.
And you know something? The trampoline sure beats stiff furniture.
You’re all jealous, aren’t you?