Every child with autism needs lots of sensory options. Your backyard is an excellent place to house these options. If you live in a warmer climate it can be accessible all year round. If you live where winter is a real thing then this could be a valuable summer addition saving your sensory room for winter or rainy days. Whether your sensory area is inside or outside , you need to be frugal as well as intentional about your choices in order to get the most bang for your buck.
A backyard needs to be a safe and secure place, no matter what toys you might put in there. I would certainly caution that having a fence or a safety barrier is a must. Please be sure to supervise your child at all times. I would never let Logan go out without his AngelSense on when he was younger and prone to wander. Certain stimulus can be tough for a child with autism to handle as well. This can include certain movements that aren’t of their own doing, like being in the car. A trampoline, however, will continue to move whether you want it to or not. This might be pleasurable due to the measurable repetition of that motion. It turns out to be a great way to work with the nervous system to make the car more enjoyable.
Riding a bike is something that worries many parents. For a child with autism, the muscles required for pedaling and balancing well might not be there. There are dozens of recommended toddler trikes online that can help very young children. Coordination is difficult to attain at this age anyway, so don’t be disheartened if you find it difficult. Some parents believe skills achieved or practiced very early on can have benefits later as a diagnosis of autism becomes more clear. Putting in a bike path around the yard is a great way to work on this skill.
Anything that moves really should include safety-wear. A helmet, in particular, might simply be too unpleasant. It’s not recommended that activities continue without it. Do shop around for different styles. There are far more on the market these days. Speak to other parents about what worked for their child. Use your RDI principles to work on wearing the helmet for the required time. Be patient but firm in this area.
If you’re open to giving your child lots of opportunities to access different textures, then a sensory garden is ideal. Of course, that can be quite high-budget. Starting with a simple child’s sand and water play table could be a good idea. The kinetic part of the water turning the wheels can be fascinating. It might be a welcome distraction. Building structures with the damp sand might also offer a way of enjoying what can be a peculiar texture.
Slides may be a step too far for a child that struggles with feeling out of control of their movement. A swing can be a gentler first step toward acclimatizing to it. Just sit still while you both read a book. Chances are, your child might find comfort in a little gentle rocking. If not, go back to being still again. There is plenty of time. Remember the muscles needed to swing are similar to the muscles needed to ride a bike. It may be quite a while before your child can swing on his own. Maddie, my child with anxiety, loves to swing to calm herself. On stressful days, she can swing for hours.
Whatever you can provide in your garden offers your child opportunity to try different things. Exploration and experimentation are important for every child. It’s difficult to tell how a child with autism might react at first. You might choose to leave them to explore the toys independently. Perhaps you’ll choose to play with them for a while first as they watch.