GUEST POST : HOW TO CREATE THE PERFECT BACKYARD FOR A CHILD WITH AUTISM
Recent statistics indicate that the number of autistic children in the United States is on the rise by 15 percent — 1 in 59 children versus the previous 1 in 68 — which has doctors and research teams continuously exploring different ways to control this incurable (though controllable) disorder. While there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence to back up the theory, teachers and support workers have observed positive side effects when children with autism are playing outdoors, including improved physical activity, social interactions, and communication skills — some specific sensitivities were even lessened. If you have an autistic child, revamp your backyard so that it’s more conducive to their behavior.
Safety And Accessibility
Safety is of utmost importance for any child, but there are some specific measures you should take based on behavior. For example, autistic children tend to wander, so you’re going to want to install a fence so they have a safe place to play. They also have a higher death rate than other children, which has been linked to incidents such as suffocation and drowning. So, if you have a pool, install a motion-detected alarm that will alert you if your child accidentally takes a tumble. Sunscreen is a must for outdoor play — just make sure to reapply it every couple of hours or after excessive sweating or swimming.
Create Sensory-Friendly Activity Stations
Sensory-friendly outdoor activities can support autistic children by helping them be more aware of their needs and guide them through some of their daily challenges while developing their own independence.
- Grow A Garden
Creating a sensory garden that your child can move and play in, yet also experience peace and quiet. Plant a variety of vegetables so your child can participate in maintaining them before enjoying the fruits of their labor. Just make sure everyone involved is outfitted with a pair of protective gardening gloves (especially if your little one is sensitive to touching new things). Since autistic children tend to smell things in an intense manner, plant aromatic plants and flowers, such as gardenia and jasmine, that also have calming effects — purple and white flowers do, too. Try to have both a sunny area as well as a shaded one to stimulate the senses. Adding a swing can enhance the space and promote additional activity.
- Create A Bird Watching Outpost
Bird watching is a fun educational activity the entire family can enjoy. Set up a comfortable outpost with a chair, set of binoculars, and a journal so you and your child can write down your observations — up the ante by taking Polaroid photos to add to the book. To attract more feathered friends, build a bird feeder together. You’d be surprised how many different models you can make that take little effort to produce.
- Set Up Sensory Bins
The outdoors is the place where kids can get away with making a mess, but to make this experience more beneficial for an autistic child, set up sensory bins. Fill them with beans, rice, sand, dirt, and leaves — anything goes as long as it’s safe — and let them make their own creations. You can even try blindfolding them and have them guess what they’re feeling, thus promoting verbal and cognitive skills.
If you don’t live in a house with a yard, you can still expose your child to the great outdoors. Visit the local park, forest preserve, or beach, and bring a bag of amusements along with you. Take it a step further by considering a family camping trip. Changing your environment from time to time can prevent your child from living in a bubble.
Written By Danny Knight – www.fixitdads.com
Photo Credit: Pixabay