Photo courtesy of Pexels
Whether or not you have a child on the autism spectrum, there’s no denying that children are spending more and more time on digital devices these days. It’s not just a case of watching too much television anymore. From smartphones to video games to tablets, there are many mind-numbing ways that children stay indoors, staring at screens rather than playing outside.
This is a concern for parents of autistic children, especially after a psychiatrist recently made headlines for suggesting that digital devices might actually be contributing to the number of children on the spectrum. While that doesn’t mean you should toss all your child’s electronic devices in the trash, it might mean that some fresh air and sunshine could be beneficial. For instance, a recent study showed that children who are on the autism spectrum can greatly benefit from spending time outdoors, which teaches them important life skills that they can carry into adulthood.
Of course, being outside is sometimes easier said than done. Children on the autism spectrum often struggle with overstimulation, wandering and other issues that may not be as much of an issue for other children. Even if that’s the case with your child, there are some options for increasing their amounts of outdoor playtime.
Here are some tips and suggestions for creating a safe, accessible and functional backyard for children on the autism spectrum:
Add relaxation One way to ease the difficulties of the autism spectrum for both yourself as well as your child is to create a comfortable place to relax outside. From gardens to meditation areas, there are many options for making your backyard more relaxing. If you enjoy watching birds, you might install a bird feeder. You could also hire a landscaper or complete a DIY landscaping project to add a sense of calm to your yard.
Adding a hammock can be another great option for encouraging outdoor relaxation and peace right in your backyard. According to Wayfair, outdoor hammocks provide a “state of complete personal comfort.” As any parent of a child on the autism spectrum already knows, this state of personal comfort is so important to our children’s well-being.
A recent study confirmed that autistic children are likely to wander. Half of all children on the autism spectrum were reported to have strayed away from parents, including bolting out the door or taking off down the street. Not only does this put autistic children at risk for danger, but it also adds unneeded stress to their parents, families and loved ones.
The first step toward a safer, kid-friendly backyard is to install a fence. While some people are resistant to spending the money it costs to install a fence, your child’s life is priceless. A properly installed fence is a small cost if it means keeping your beloved child safe, healthy and alive.
Bonnie Barnes Hebert of Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College recommends creating a “therapeutic garden” for children on the autism spectrum. The idea is that therapeutic gardens can help ease the symptoms of autism while helping reduce overstimulation or promote a sense of calm. If you have a garden or trees outside, invest in a good pair of gardening gloves and trim any hedges, branches, or thorns that might potentially hurt your child. From rubber to leather, there are many types of gloves available. These gardening gloves are highly rated for home improvement and DIY gardening projects.
It’s important to remember that autism looks different in every child. What works for one child might not work for yours. Be willing to experiment and try new things as you raise your child on the autism spectrum. The secret to helping your children find peace and happiness could be waiting right in your own backyard.