Playing outdoors is one of the essential pleasures of being a child. Stepping out through the back door into a sunlit yard provides any kid with fresh air and a sense of freedom, and this is especially necessary if you have a special needs child. Here’s how to create a sensory-stimulating and safe yard environment for your child with special needs.
Enclose Play Areas
A safe yard should be your number one consideration. A child on the autism spectrum may have a tendency to wander. Fences can help keep this from occurring. Enclosures should be at least five feet high with no handholds that your kid can use to climb. It’s also essential to install out-of-reach locks or latches on doors and gates to keep your autistic child inside where they belong.
Walkways Should Accommodate Wheelchairs or Walkers
If your special needs child needs a wheelchair, pathways should be at least six inches wider than the chair. and ramps should be installed where necessary. If your child is dependent on a walker, make sure that paths are not so narrow or uneven that walking is difficult. Play stations installed on raised platforms can bring projects, games, and other learning opportunities up to a convenient height for a child in a wheelchair.
- Install handholds and handrails along both sides of pathways, on decks and patios, and in seating areas.
- Soft surfaces that “give” can help prevent head injuries from falls.
- If your child is sensitive to light, install non-glare surfaces.
Include Tactile Features
If you have a child with impaired vision, such features could include raised bumps, lines, and patterns to help your child know when they’ve entered a new path or are about to leave the route they’ve been on. Label play areas with textures or Braille to help a child with low vision locate them.
Do Away With Surprises
If you have a nonverbal child, visual aids and signs can provide a feeling of security. A child who feels lost can grow worried and anxious and won’t feel safe enough to enjoy and explore their backyard wonderland. Consider creating orientation maps to help them get where they want to go easily and directly.
Keep Things Consistent.
Once you’ve got the layout of your safe yard set, try to keep it essentially the same way. Don’t move major features such as benches, fountains, or bird feeders unless it’s necessary for functionally essential or safety reasons. Your special needs child will feel safer when they know what to expect, and they’ll flourish in an environment they are sure they can rely on.
Create Small Transitions
Once your child is familiar with their surroundings, you can make small, incremental adjustments. Gradual transitions are much easier for a child with special needs to process than sudden changes. Provide your child with time and space between their various activities, and give them verbal and visual cues to alert them when something new is about to occur.
When designing your safe yard play space, keep in mind your child’s unique requirements and build in features to accommodate them. Offer your kid a safe backyard playground with fascinating sights, sounds, and smells to explore. It will provide a whole new experience for them, and that can make a big difference.
- If you live in or near Columbia, SC, Caring Healthcare can also make a huge difference in the life of your special needs child. Give us a call and see how we can help.