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Creating the Perfect Backyard for Children on the Autism Spectrum

Danny Knight from fixitdads.com tells us how to do it!

Summer is a time of fun for all our children. However, we want that fun to be safe, especially when our little ones are on the autism spectrum. Here is what you can do to safely prepare your backyard for your child during the warmer months.

Water play is great for all kids in Summer

Water play is great for all kids in summer

Pool Safety

Plenty of children love water, especially pools. Kids on the autism spectrum can have a particular attachment to water, as it can be highly soothing while offering a unique sensory experience. Pool safety is, therefore, important. This should be a combination of practical safety and education on the dangers, including swimming lessons and water safety.

 

When it comes to practical measures, surround your pool with fencing high enough that it cannot be easily clambered over, as well as a self-latching gate to provide an initial barrier against entry. As added security, you can install a pool alarm system. There are a variety of different alarms, but they can be indispensable to alerting an adult when they are triggered by unauthorized entry into the water.

 

If you don’t have a pool, there are other water sensory activities that can be just as much fun. These include creating a pretend car wash for your child’s cars, noodle boats and rainbow bubbles.

 

Yard Safety

Our backyards can present many hazards, so it’s important to prepare for anything. As parents, there will always be some worry, but there’s much that can be done. Check your yard regularly for any poisonous plants, and never leave tools or chemicals lying around. A child on the spectrum is inquisitive and impulsive, and they may not instinctually associate these things with danger. Apply this mindset to any toys or other items that could be enticing; anything that could draw children away from our supervision should be locked away after use. There is always the possibility of wandering and flight. As a precaution against this, ensure there are secure fences and self-locking gates. Use warning signs in these areas, and places that you would prefer to be off-limits, to provide a visible deterrent. While these measures may not entirely remove danger from our yards, they can help create a safer environment ideal for fun and learning.

Kids appropirate tools for fun garden play

Kid appropriate tools for safe play

Sensory Spaces

Having a space where your children can engage their senses can be fantastic. This might be a play area, or it might simply be a place where they can withdraw if overwhelmed. It doesn’t have to be isolated or removed from view. Fill this area with bright, colorful fixtures and objects that they enjoy and give them comfort when they become overstimulated.

 

A great addition would be a garden. Just like water, gardens can be places that can delight the senses of a spectrum child. They can provide passive sensory integration or be a therapeutic platform for children to actively participate. If you do try gardening, be sure to arm yourself with all the equipment you will need, from child-friendly tools to protective gloves. Gardening may be autism-friendly, as it can provide a sensory-rich activity that can be practiced at an adjustable pace without becoming overwhelming. It can connect them to nature and give them controllable opportunities to learn and create.

Autistic kids benefit from outdoor space and play

Autistic kids benefit from outdoor space and play – It’s great to have a sandpit.

Safe Playtime

The great thing about a backyard is that you can create a truly customizable playground adaptable to your child’s specific needs and preferences. Build one that will allow your child to engage in physical activities while still having options to soothe when they aren’t feeling too great. As with a sensory area, make use of color and add meditative toys such as a rain stick. Consider including sandboxes for additional sensory play, and combine them with toys like building blocks or Thomas the Tank Engine. These types of toys are an effective way to improve spatial skills and encourage creativity. Always have a mini-ball on hand in your play area, as it’s a great way to start or end any fun session once your children become familiar with it.

 

There is so much joy to be had when exploring the yard together. However, no matter how cautious we are, things can happen. That’s why it’s important to safety-proof your backyard to keep your little one secure. After all, there is nothing quite like peace of mind.

Author: Danny Knight, from fixitdads.com

Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com

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