Welcome to the world of faster (and faster) movement! After mastering walking and possibly running, kids are often eager to jump on a ride-on toy and get moving. If a child has had motor delays and has had to wait to develop the strength and balance needed to use a bike, they may be a bit afraid, or they may throw caution to the wind and try it all as soon as possible!
Selecting the best equipment for kids that have low tone or hypermobility doesn’t end with picking a color or a branded character ( Thanks, Frozen, for bringing up my Disney stock in 2013 almost single-handedly!). In order to find the right choice for your child, here are some simple guidelines that could make things both easier and safer:
- Fit matters. A lot. Hypermobile children are by definition more flexible than their peers. Their limbs stretch, a lot. This doesn’t mean that they should be encouraged to use pedals so far away from their bodies that their legs are fully extended, or use handlebars that reach their chins. In general, muscles have their greatest strength and joints have their greatest stability and control in mid-range. Fit the device to the child, not the other way around. Choose equipment that fits them well now, while they are learning, and ideally it can be adjusted as they grow. For the youngest or smallest kids, read The Best Ride-On Toy For Younger (or Petite) Toddlers and check out this great ride-on toy!
- Seats, pedals and handlebars that have some texture and even some padding give your child more sensory information for control and safety. These features provide more tactile and proprioceptive information about grip, body positions and body movements. You may be able to find equipment with these features, or you can go the aftermarket route and do it yourself. A quick hack would be using electrical tape for some extra texture and to secure padding. Some equipment can handle mix-and-match additions as well. Explore your local shops for expert advice (and shop local to support your local merchants in town!)
- Maintain your child’s equipment, and replace it when it no longer fits them or works well. Although it is more affordable to receive second-hand items or pass things down through the family, hypermobile kids often find that when ball bearings or wheels wear down, the extra effort required to use a device makes it harder to have fun. The additional effort can create fatigue, disinterest in using the equipment, or awkward/asymmetrical patterns of movement that aren’t ergonomically sound. Repair or replace either than force your child to work harder or move poorly.
Looking for more information about low tone and hypermobility?
I wrote two e-books for you!
The JointSmart Child: Living and Thriving With Hypermobility Volume One: The Early Years and Volume Two: The School Years are here!
Both have useful information to make caring for your hypermobile child easier, safer, and both build their independence throughout the day. This is essential reading for parents of children with PWS, EDS, many forms of SPD, and Down syndrome. These books cover how to teach your family members, babysitters and teachers the best ways to work with your child, making life easier for BOTH of you! They teach parents and therapists how to communicate with families, professionals and community members such as coaches and educators. There are helpful checklists and forms that make picking the right chairs, clothes, even plates and utensils that make life easier for hypermobile kids.
Understanding that hypermobility creates more than unstable joints is key. Hypermobility creates emotional, social and sensory processing issues that affect a child’s development. When parents have knowledge, they are empowered and can act as advocates rather than react to situations. When therapists have a solid treatment plan, they can be amazing clinicians and help a child blossom! These books are intended to teach new clinicians and parents of hypermobile kids how to make a difference in a child’s life right away.
Pick them up as a read-only download on Amazon ,or as a printable and click-able download on Your Therapy Source today!
Want more posts on hypermobility? Read The Hypermobile Hand: More Than A Strength Problem , Is Your Hypermobile Child Frequently In An Awkward Position? No, She Really DOESN’T Feel Any Pain From Sitting That Way and How Hypermobility Affects Self-Image, Behavior and Activity Levels in Children.