One of the joys of having your own yard is being able to watch your children run around and explore the wonders of being outdoors. This same joy can be shared and experienced by children with autism as well. As a parent, you want your child to have fun outside, but in a way that is safe. Here are some tips for making your backyard safe, accessible, and fun for your autistic child.
1. A Healthy Lawn Makes for a Safe Surface
First things first, you’ll want to make sure that your yard provides a safe environment for your child. When it comes to your child falling down while playing outdoors, it’s not a matter of preventing the fall, but making sure that the surface they are playing on provides a soft landing. You can throw on some gardening gloves and surround play areas with soft wood chips to provide a soft landing. Alternatively, most yards come equipped with grass, which when kept at reasonable height can provide a soft landing anytime your child trips and falls.
2. Keep Your Yard Properly Enclosed
Another important safety tip is to make sure that your yard is properly fenced in. Some children with autism are known to have a flight response to certain situations. If your child is triggered by some outdoor noise, they may start running and could leave the safety of your yard and possibly injure themselves. Keeping your yard enclosed and locked will ensure that your child remains in your yard and safe at all times.
3. Give Your Child a Therapy Swing
Playsets are a good idea for keeping your child entertained outdoors. Some playsets are safer than others, but even the safest playset can’t beat a good old fashion swing. Fortunately, there is a special swing made specifically with autistic children in mind. Therapy swings are made from a wide saucer-shaped base, which can hold one child laying down, or even several children swinging at the same time. Swinging is known to provide certain therapeutic benefits for children with autism. A therapy swing could be a perfect addition to have in your own backyard.
4. Create a Sensory Experience with Fun Outdoor Activities
To really help your child get the most out of their outdoor experience, you should prepare several activities to stoke their curiosity. Children on the autism spectrum perceive and experience their surroundings differently than others. Providing a diverse sensory experience during play will give them an outdoor experience they won’t soon forget. Some activities you can try are coloring with chalk on sidewalks, playing hide and seek, or even turning on the sprinkler for some wet summer fun. Water can be especially useful for children with autism since it provides a sensory experience that relaxes and soothes.
Another way to give your child a fun experience outdoors is by simply looking around and discovering all the life that exists outdoors. Bird watching is a fun experience you can share with your child that can provide hours of entertainment. If you want to take it to the next level, you could even create an outdoor scavenger hunt where your family goes around and tries to find different birds, objects, and animals.
As Plexus points out in this list of activities, the fun doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down, either. Set up your own backyard camping ground with a tent, sleeping bags, and maybe even a small fire. Camping is a unique and thrilling experience for a child, and having this experience in your backyard ensures that your child remains safe at all times. When the sun goes down, you can sing campfire songs and stargaze before tucking in for the night.
The moments you have with your child now will stay with them for the rest of their lives. By creating a safe environment, you’ll give them the chance to come closer nature and open their eyes to the wonderful world around them.
About the author: Danny is a dad living in Philadelphia. He enjoys DIY projects almost as much as raising his two children. He is the co-creator of FixItDads.com, which offers tips for home improvement projects.
Photo Credit: Pixabay