Children with autism, according to the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, often experience sensory differences that can make them feel under-responsive or over-responsive to sensory stimuli. In everyday life, this could mean that your child frequently complains of clothes being too scratchy, food being too mushy or lights being too bright. Or, your child’s sensory differences could mean that he or she prefers to be in constant movement to regulate his or her feeling of sensory input. Most children on the autism spectrum have sensations they avoid and those they seek out.
Autism Awareness Australia notes that sensory seekers are easy to spot because they usually jump, roll, or spin around when they should be sitting still. For these children, consider creating a backyard haven for them to have a safe space — and safe equipment — to get the sensory input they need. Consider these three tips from Hammbag to integrate your knowledge about autism with your understanding of your child’s preferences.
- Make a Plan While Putting Safety First
Regardless of how much your child likes to bounce and spin, his or her safety always comes first. Consider age-appropriate equipment and activities in lieu of trampolines, bounce houses and other equipment that may be more harmful than helpful. A hammock like one from Hammbag is a great item to include, as it allows them to swing safely or simply rest and enjoy the outdoors. Also, never leave your child alone with small beads, water or any substances they may want to put in their mouths.
If you have a large backyard and you’re planning to purchase jungle gyms or other play equipment, start by drawing out a plan of your child’s ideal backyard. Consider a play table, at least one swing or piece of sensory play equipment and a larger area in which your child can run around. Take pictures when you’re finished if you plan to list your home for sale in the future, and mention the backyard play area as an extra feature in your home’s listing. Keep receipts to track your budget and include these expenses in the price you set for the sale of your home, as adding such upgrades to the property can actually boost your home’s appraisal value.
- Ask Your Child for Suggestions
Your child may not be old enough to help you design a backyard playground, or he or she may be nonverbal, but your child likely has a few strong opinions about playtime. If you have an older child, ask for help sorting through options of new play equipment. Younger children may like looking at pictures or even trying out specific toys in a store. Your child may express a preference for spinning toys, small trampolines, disc swings or slides.
- Include a Sensory Table for Quieter Play
If your child enjoys different textures, include a sandbox, a water table, clay or water beads in a location that will not get wet if it rains — or purchase a box that you can cover before you go inside. If your child panics, cries or vomits when he or she touches sand or other play items due to sensory aversions, leave these offending substances out of your new playground. Your goal should be to create a safe, fun play space that encourages exploration at your child’s own pace.
Your child’s individual personality will guide you in selecting play equipment and sensory activities for your backyard. Add multiple sensory options, including swinging, spinning or sliding features, and add a quiet area that includes sand, water and any other toys you wouldn’t want to play with inside your house!
Hammbag meets the adventurer’s need to have all that’s needed in an easy-to-carry bag: a picnic mat, hammock, towel, and blanket. We believe adventure is more your perspective than your position, it really happens anywhere at any time! Shop online today, or reach out for more info! [email protected]