Danny Knight from fixitdads.com tells us how to do it!
Outdoor play is not just fun; it’s an important part of growing up. Through the little games they play, children develop their motor, communication and problem-solving skills while exploring the world and exercising outside in the sunshine. If you’re the parent of the a child on the autism spectrum, you cannot let them miss out on this important part of their physical and mental development.
Indeed, engaging with the world outside is an important element of sensory integration therapy, a fancy term that refers simply to practices that enhance how the brain reacts to touch, sound, sight and movement. Luckily, you have the perfect space for them to do this: your own backyard. Here’s how to transform it into the perfect educational playground.
Make a Bird Feeder
There are quite a few benefits here for the little ones. First off, making the bird feeder by using supplies from around the house is an excellent way to engage their fine motor skills as they use a variety of tools and materials to get the job done. Furthermore, there’s an element of sensory education involved as they see and feel the seeds that they pour into the feeder for their feathered friends to feast on. Best of all, it’s a wonderful way for any youngster to learn about the locally ecology and species that live in the area.
Get a Sandbox
It may just look like fun, but playing in a sandbox is a sensory activity used in a form of therapy called “heavy work.” No, that does not refer to autistic children putting in a few hours in at a construction site, but rather using force to move objects around, which helps develop their proprioceptive receptors in their muscle tissue and improves their motor skills overall. One of the most popular activities for this form of therapy includes filling up buckets of sand and pouring them around using buckets and shovels.
Learning to swim offers enormous benefits for autistic children, according to the experts at Parents.com, by bringing a bit of fun into their lives while they build confidence and valuable muscle coordination. The safest way for them to get started is in your backyard under your own supervision, and there’s no need to install an expensive inground pool if you’re on a budget. There are plenty of low-cost options to choose from, and an inflatable pool gives them a place to splash around and cool off while engaging in more sensory integration therapy.
Grow a Garden
This is another way to get your child outside for some exercise in a safe environment that will soothe their anxieties while they learn how food is produced, and can even provide your family with ingredients for a healthy diet. Autistic children learn how to accomplish a goal step by step while paying attention to detail and engaging their fine motor skills in the acts of planting, weeding, watering and harvesting, says a writer with Neural Balance. There’s also an important lesson to be learned in care and ownership. They’ll need to protect their hands while working, so invest in a kid-friendly pair of gardening gloves.
Build a Playhouse
It serves as a peaceful retreat when the rest of the world becomes a little overwhelming. Since this is a place of calm, it should have few windows or doors, be insulated from outside noise, and painted in white or neutral colors. You can also add some washable outdoor cushions and pillows for extra comfort. Be sure to choose a design that allows easy access so your child can enter and exit as they see fit, exploring the backyard at their leisure and returning inside for a bit of peace and quiet.
With the right design, your backyard can be as therapeutic as it is pleasant during the warm summer months. All it takes is a little attention to design and a bit of elbow grease. Make it happen for your little ones, and watch them take on the world with joy and confidence.
Image via Pixabay.