10 Tips to Make Your Yard Autism-Friendly
With summer right around the corner, it’s time to start preparing for how you’ll manage your child’s break, and in all likelihood, this will include some fun outdoor time. As children with autism have increased sensitivity to schedule changes and a higher likelihood of wandering, you’ll need to be prepared with some new activities and strategies to keep your child safe this summer, while allowing for fun outdoor exploration.
Here are 10 tips to help you get ready.
Tip #1 Build A Fence
According to Autism Speaks, half of all children with autism will wander from a safe, supervised space. Therefore, erecting a fence around your property will allow your child to have a controlled space where you won’t have to worry about the risks of outdoor threats or flight.
Tip #2 Install A Swing
Swing therapy is beneficial for autistic children as they work to calm them as well as improve circulation and muscle tone. You can install a whole swing set if your yard size allows it, or consider hanging a rope swing from a study tree branch or a simple A-frame swing structure.
Tip #3 Protect Your Pool
A study out of Columbia University reported that children with autism are at significant risk for drowning. In fact, children with autism are three times the risk as their non-disabled peer. If you have a pool, take these important measures:
– Keep careful eye on your child.
– Use a safety device such as a life jacket and make sure they don’t take it off as this is a tendency in children with sensory issues.
– Install a pool alarm to alert you when the pool is entered while you’re not watching.
– Get your child swim lessons.
Tip #4 Get A Sandbox
Sand play is a great sensory tool for children with autism. There are plenty of activities you can do with your child, such as creating a treasure hunt, introducing numerals and the alphabet by writing in the sand, building a sandcastle, making a volcano and creating a construction site with toy trucks and tractors.
Tip 5# Make Sure Your Child Has Identification
Children with autism are known for some pretty amazing escapes, including scaling a fence. In the event that your child did wander, make sure that they have proper identification so you can be reunited with them quickly.
Tip #6 Plant A Garden
Gardening has a wealth of benefits for children with autism. The act of digging alone can reduce muscle tension, lower blood pressure, build endurance, reduce anxiety, promote healthy social interaction and encourage speech as your child learns to share their exciting discoveries.
You also might want to consider researching garden gloves for you and your kids to wear as you plant seeds.
Tip #7 Outdoor Safety
As fun as being outdoors is for kids, it may also lead to overstimulation. Be sure that your outdoor space has a safe, quiet place where your child can find solitude should they need it. This could be an outdoor tent or an outdoor cocoon chair/swing.
Tip #8 Pitch A Tent
Enjoy some family bonding time by pitching a tent under the stars. Sleeping outdoors can improve your body’s circadian rhythm, build up your immune system, reduce stress and eliminate the negative consequences of inhaling too much stale air.
Tip #9 Install A Trampoline
Trampoline therapy is widely used to help children with autism to acquire new motor skills, improve their coordination, develop muscle strength, promote stable posture and increase stamina. Before making the purchase, you’ll need to consider some important things, like yard size, the type of trampoline and what safety features you’ll want.
Tip #10 Consider A Tracking Device
If your child has a tendency to wander, you can enjoy a greater peace of mind while letting them enjoy outdoor time by purchasing a tracking device. Make sure to check out reviews to ensure you’re getting the device best suited for you.
Every child, including children with disabilities, needs valuable outdoor time. Time outdoors comes with plenty of health benefits such as better sleep, improved motor skills, sparking creativity, improvements in academic performance, better concentration skills, enhanced mood and many others. Use these tips so you can enjoy time outdoors with your child and reap the rewards.