We welcomed the Co-Creator of FixItDads.com Danny Knight to share his tips for building a backyard for a child with autism.
The Children’s Safety Network reported that more than 200,000 kids go to the ER due to playground-related injuries. If you’re raising a child on the autism spectrum, you know that safety is a major concern. Our kids don’t always understand danger so it’s up to us as parents to create a safe space for them.
How To Keep Your Child Safe
There are several things you can do to create a safe and functional space for your child.
First, fence off your yard. One of the biggest dangers for children on the spectrum is wandering. According to Autism Speaks, nearly half of parents surveyed reported that their autistic child had attempted to wander. The best protection is a fence your child cannot climb over or under. We also recommend using double-sided locks on any doors in the fence.
Avoid dangerous backyard toys, such as trampolines. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that over 280,000 people were treated for trampoline injuries in 2014.
Don’t buy pools or slip and slides. The CDCstates that drowning is highest among children ages 1 to 4 and recommends that all children with pool access know how to swim. Slip and slides can also cause injuries and head trauma.
Properly install and cushion swing sets. CBS News reported that swing sets cause injuries, including strangulation when kids get caught up in rope swings. Choose the right elements for your child and avoid any hazardous play pieces in your set.
Scrutinize everything that is already in your yard. Keep your eye out for hidden dangers, like wasp nests, poison ivy, and ticks. Lock up or remove any heavy yard work items including pruning shares and clear out any standing water and all debris.
In addition, make sure that you have on hand the things you need to keep your child safe outdoors: sunscreen, bug repellent and a first aid kit.
A backyard provides a great opportunity to engage and educate your child, particularly if he or she has sensory issues. Plus being outside can lead to all kinds of great family activities. Consider the following as musts for the backyard:
Sandbox: These provide a safe and enjoyable way to stimulate your child’s tactile senses. If he doesn’t like sand, create a sensory box full of raw rice. Bury small toys for him to find on a “treasure hunt.” As he gets used to it, you may be able to transition to a sandbox.
Water toys: Similar to a sandbox, a water table safely allows your child to play with water. It’s a great option to cool down in warm weather. You can also attach a water sprinkler attach to your hose, providing a safer alternative for summer fun than a slip and slide.
Backyard explorer toys: Help your child turn your yard into a science classroom with these toys. Find bugs, collect rocks, and learn about flowers. For example, bird watching binoculars help you and your child explore the amazing species that live near your home.
Backyard camping: This is a much safer option than camping in the woods. Kids will love it when you pitch a tent and put out the sleeping bags. You can have a cookout and marshmallow roast right on your grill.
Gardening: Most kids love planting. It allows them to get really messy and play in the dirt! Create a garden with flowers or food plants that your child will love watching grow. Check out the best gardening gloves you can find for this task.
Finally, stock your yard with balls, Frisbees, bubbles and other outdoor toys.
Creating a safe backyard for your child on the autism spectrum isn’t hard and doesn’t have to involve complicated and costly equipment. Keep it simple with toys that can help him safely play and learn while bringing your family closer.
About the Author:
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.