How to Create a Backyard Your Autistic Child Will Love
Children today spend only about half of the time their parents spent in the backyard. And with 91 percent of children playing video games, it’s no wonder why. A study conducted this year by Common Sense Media and Survey Monkey, found that 47 percent of parents said they worry their child is addicted to a tech device.
But did you know that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely to have negative effects from screen time? According to Psychology Today, autistic children are very vulnerable to a disorder known as Electronic Screen Syndrome, which causes hyper-arousal and emotion deregulation.
But there are many other reasons to get your child outdoors. These include improved social interaction, better behaviour, increased emotion regulation, increased learning skills, and decreased autistic sensitivity. And that means creating a backyard your Autistic child will love!
Here’s how you can get started.
Start by Making It Safe
The first thing you need to tend to when creating a backyard oasis for your child is making sure they’re safe. For children with ASD that is going to mean building a fence because half of all autistic children will wander from a safe place. Also make sure your backyard is free of any poisonous plants. Hydrangea and rhododendron, for example, are both popular flowering bushes, and both can be fatal if eaten.
Plant a Garden
Whether a flower garden or a vegetable garden, children love to watch things grow. Along with teaching children the responsibility of keeping their garden growing, children can learn multitudes of things from gardening, like healthy eating, cause and effect, reasoning, teamwork, and a love of nature. Gardening is also great exercise for children. Be sure to invest in a good pair of gardening gloves. Diseases like tetanus, sepsis, and Legionnaires’ disease can be found in soil.
Have a Family Camp-Out
Children love to spend time in outdoor tents. You can set one up for a weekend of camp-out fun or set one up for children to enjoy for a more extended period of time. For a special weekend of fun, plan family activities like bird watching, star gazing, and making s’mores. Be sure to plan some fun games for special bonding time for parents and children. Consider playing Twister on the grass or playing the old classic game Capture the Flag.
Add a Swing
There are multiple swings available for children with autism. Some outdoor options include raindrop swings, tire swings, and cocoon swings. Swinging is a vestibular activity that helps children improve sensory integration. While most people can combine the experiences from their five senses in one single experience, ASD children cannot. Swinging helps to strengthen the connection between nerve endings and the brain, and this makes sensory associations easier.
Build an Obstacle Course
Creating a fun obstacle course in your backyard is a great way to get children physically fit and improve their gross motor skills. You can build a simple temporary obstacle course, or you could build a permanent course with tires and more sturdy materials. A good obstacle course can help children learn sequencing and following directions, too.
Build Something Cool With Pallets
Along with all the fun activities you’re creating in the backyard, your child will need a quiet space for calm when they become overstimulated. You can build a cosy sectional from pallets. Check out these cool design ideas for creating pallet furniture.
Children (and parents) who spend more time outdoors will see improvement in both their physical and mental health. Research suggests that time outdoors strengthens immune systems, promotes healing, improves concentration, and increases happiness. Science also says that after a fun day outdoors, you’ll also sleep better. So start creating a backyard your whole family will love.