GUEST BLOG: Autism and outdoor safety – how to create a safe haven in your backyard
Parenting a child on the autism spectrum includes unique challenges, and outdoor safety is one of them!
With a little ingenuity and thoughtfulness, you can create a safe, accessible, and functional backyard for your child.
Here are some ideas for turning your backyard into a safe haven.
Autism and outdoor safety
Spending time outside is healthy for your autistic child. Kids Growing Strong explains that time in nature helps reduce anxiety and improve sensory processing.
Being outdoors encourages full-body play which can help develop better coordination and physical social skills. Outdoor play can also improve overall behavior, enhance attention span, and lower response times.
Oftentimes children with autism are prone to wandering, so it’s imperative to take measures to protect your child, yet still allow for the benefits of the great outdoors.
Fence the perimeter
A good fence is the first step for a child with autism and outdoor safety. As She Knows points out, children with autism often prefer to be outdoors and moving.
Installing a tall, secure fence can keep your youngster from adventuring too far if she happens to slip out. An appropriate fence will put you at ease and make you more inclined to allow outdoor playtime. Some parents do well with a fence that is solid, is six feet tall, and includes a double lock to prevent escape.
Remember security is the key.
A pool is a hazard to youngsters with autism, so it’s vital to take precautions.
One idea is to install barriers to prevent your child from accessing the pool. Add a safety cover, remove ladders, and eliminate other areas of access when you aren’t using the pool.
You can install a pool alarm so you know immediately if your child finds a way into the water without warning.
Any other bodies of water should be inaccessible, and containers in your landscape which hold water, such as tubs or buckets, should be emptied. Another suggestion is to arrange for your child to take swimming lessons.
Children with autism can often learn to be proficient swimmers, providing tremendous peace of mind, especially if you own a pool!
Gardening for growth
Gardening can be helpful for children on the autism spectrum. Kids with autism often appear relieved and experience a calmer state when spending time in a garden.
Gardens offer movements, sounds, fragrance, contrasts in light and darkness, and colors and textures which can enthrall autistic children.
Consider designing a garden space that is especially engaging to the senses, which can provide endless fascination and vital sensory input to your child.
Plant flowers with interesting perfumes, add some windchimes, and include plants with varied textures, such as soft, fuzzy leaves as well as smooth, shiny ones. You can even add shrubs and trees with varied bark; think about papery peels, rugged knobs, and flat, scaly growth.
Wear a sturdy pair of gardening gloves when planting, or your hands may be as rough as tree bark when you’re finished!
Birds can provide wonderful outdoor entertainment and learning opportunities to children with autism.
Include a bird-watching station in your backyard projects. Install a bird feeder or two and add a birdhouse to watch bird families grow.
You can set up an area for watching the birds in the shade. Equip your youngster with a comfortable chair, a bird-identification guide, and a set of binoculars.
Freedom, fun, and safety
Being outside offers special benefits to children with autism.
However, precautions are vital. Ensure your yard is a secure environment, then create engaging experiences to help your child bloom.
You can provide a fun and safe haven to your youngster right in your own backyard!
MEET OUR GUEST BLOGGER!
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.