The nice weather is here, offering a wonderful opportunity to have some fun outside with your child. Lindsay Wagner, Director of Allied Health, recommends getting outside to expand your child’s abilities while also enjoying time together.
Water Play Offers Calming Sensory Stimulation
The sensory impact of water is irresistible. The feel, look, sound, and smell provide multiple stimuli for everyone, but especially for a child on the autism spectrum. Lindsay notes that swimming provides proprioceptive input, soothing the joints and muscles. Its calming effect is also positive. Water play is beneficial for creative play, which is a challenge for children on the autism spectrum. As with most activities, be sure to talk with your child about water safety before going, and keep a close eye on your child.
Bring along squeeze and scooping toys for water play. “Blowing bubbles requires inhaling and exhaling, which many children with sensory issues have trouble modulating,” said Lindsay. “As a result, bubbles have a calming effect.” Scooping and pouring water strengthens fingers and improves eye/hand coordination.
Playgrounds Foster Exploration, Discovery, Body Movement, and Socialization
“Get out to different playgrounds to encourage exploration, discovery, and body movement,” said Lindsay. Interactive play teaches socialization skills. If you have access to a variety of equipment, it helps children develop problem-solving skills and confidence. According to Lindsay, Jumping, climbing, swinging, and hanging gives input to the inner ear, which is calming.
Preview Before You Go
Lindsay suggests “previewing” before heading to a water or playground area. “Let your child know the rules and what to expect before you go,” she said. “Provide instructions and let your child know the limits.”
Suggested talking points include:
- How long the stay will last
- Things we can say to other kids
- Which activities to start with to facilitate the transition to the new environment
- Have fun