Ways Your Autistic Child Can Have Fun Outdoors and Remain Sensory Conscious

Your autistic child requires the same fun, adventure, and stimulation as every other child. The difference is that children with autism often need additional assistance to find fulfillment in the outdoors due to their sensory sensitivities. ABA Therapy Centers in FL suggests open, quiet spaces only if your autistic child is sensory sensitive. 

Ways Your Autistic Child Can Have Fun Outdoors and Remain Sensory Conscious
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What Are the Sensory Challenges To Expect?

Challenges differ depending on the individual child but generally include:

  • Hyperactivity or aversion to certain kinds of sensory input, such as sound and light
  • Difficulty regulating emotions in response to sensory stimuli
  • Over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to certain textures, tastes, smells, and sights
  • Difficulty focusing due to environmental distractions

Which Activities Are Ideal?

Ideal activities depend on your child's capabilities and interests. As much as possible, plan activities that involve physical movement, such as running, climbing, swinging, or hopping. Create an inviting atmosphere by putting tents, chairs, and cushions in the outdoor space. 

You can also incorporate sensory-oriented toys or tools like hand-held fans or bubble wands. Building forts or tunnels from pillows and blankets is also a great way to provide tactile stimulation.

Where Can You Go?

The best places to take your child are parks, gardens, or any other outdoor spot with minimal lights and sounds. Look for sites that feature both open and enclosed areas. For example, an outdoor park with grassy patches to run around and a playground slide to explore.

Remember that open fields and trails will overwhelm some autistic children due to the lack of structure or boundaries. Create a designated play area by setting up blankets and toys. A crowded playground can also trigger sensory overload. Look for quieter spots with fewer people.

Your yard can also be a tremendous sensory-friendly area. Plant some flowers, add wind chimes, and hang a few decorations like colorful lanterns. Spending more time here prepares them for larger outdoor spaces.

What To Do in Case of Overload?

If your child does become overwhelmed, take them to a quiet area like a gazebo or, if possible, back to your car. Change the environment and use calming tools like deep breathing exercises, music, or just holding their hand. A few minutes of time-out and reassurance should be enough for them to recover. If they're still anxious, take them home, then try another day.

What if They Become Aggressive?

If your child becomes aggressive, avoid scolding or punishing them. Instead, redirect the behavior and find an activity they can focus on. If they become distraught, take them to a quiet area and calmly discuss the situation. Doing this will help your child understand why their behavior is inappropriate and give them better control over how they express themselves in the future.

Other tips are:

  • Wear comfortable clothing so they don't become uncomfortable during activities.
  • Bring their favorite snacks and drinks to keep them hydrated and satisfied.
  • Have a plan for when your child becomes overwhelmed and needs to take a break.
  • Be ready to adapt activities if your child has trouble focusing on one for a long time.
  • Talk to your child about their feelings and reactions so they can better understand themselves.

Don’t Give Up

Ultimately, the key is to be patient, understanding, and flexible when introducing outdoor activities to your child with autism. The more you expose them to different environments, the more likely they'll find peace and contentment outdoors. Adequately prepare and adjust according to their needs, and you'll have an enjoyable experience.

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