No matter how old you are, getting outside is good for you. You don’t need to live in a rural area to feel the benefits of being outdoors. Research has shown that over time, symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder can become less pronounced when children play outdoors. What a great incentive to encourage outdoor sensory play in your own backyard. Here are five fun backyard activities for your child on the autism spectrum.
1.Go Backyard Camping
According to Priory, treating the early symptoms of autism is important. Introduce your child to the outdoors by integrating things they enjoy, such as watching a movie on a projector. Having friends over for an activity like this is also a good opportunity to work on reading social cues in other people. It can also help a child become more comfortable with socializing. If you have a fire pit in the backyard, there are some unique smells and sensations that can help your child acclimate to being outside and enjoy the sensory experience the outdoors provides.
2. Play Water Games
Studies show that hydrotherapy, or therapy that involves water, can be a useful tool for children with ASD. Playing in water is an effective way to promote relaxation, engagement, movement and even improve social behavior. Setting up some water activities in your backyard is a good way to help your child socialize and work together with others.
Team water balloon or water gun fights can be fun, but might be too overwhelming. Instead, try setting up targets your little one can hit. This can be a great activity that doesn’t feel over-stimulating. A small backyard pool that your child can play in or float toys in is another great option for hydrotherapy. You can also set up a slip-n-slide when the weather is warm. The games you set up for your child don’t have to be win-or-lose activities. The goal is for them to provide new sensory experiences.
3. Grow a Garden
According to Kim Stoddard from The Guardian, gardening is an awesome way to engage children with ASD. Gardening offers diverse and varied opportunities. Fragrant flowers, movement around the garden, unique sounds and abundant wildlife are all good for autism-related symptoms. An additional plus is eating all the edible things you’ve grown.
4. Hula Hoop Games
The nice thing about hula hoops is versatility. You can set up a hula hoop croquet in your backyard and do it as an individual or in a group. You can also play hula hoop hopscotch, do a giant ring toss, an obstacle course and more. And if all else fails, you can just do regular, old hula hooping.
5. Set Up a Fossil Hunt in the Sandbox
If you have a sandbox in your backyard, or even some spare dirt from your gardening activities, setting up a fossil hunt can be very engaging. You can make fossils for your child to discover from plaster of paris and a couple of other supplies. Then, split up the “bones,” and bury them in the backyard sandbox. It’s a lot of fun watching your child dig them up and figure out how they all fit together. For some children with ASD, this activity can be a little too sensory heavy, so having a pair of gloves can help. This activity may even kick start your child’s interests in becoming an amateur archaeologist or paleontologist.
Open-ended play that promotes socialization and experimentation with new stimuli is a good way to help your child grow. These activities can be done individually or in groups, and there’s no better place to do this than in your own backyard.
Photo credit: Pexels
ASLTIP’s membership has been growing rapidly since 1989. We are a support organisation run by our members. The executive board is always grateful for new members and new ideas.Apply for a membership