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Autism-Friendly Backyards: Tips and Resources for Tampa Bay Families

Having a child on the autism spectrum doesn’t mean your little one can’t enjoy the great outdoors! It just means you need to put a bit more time and effort into creating a safe outdoor space for your child to play.

To help you modify your backyard to meet the needs of your child with autism, the Tampa Bay Moms Group (TBMG) shares 12 tips and resources in the sections below. You’ll create a fun and accessible backyard for your little one to enjoy throughout the whole year!

Image via Pexels

Create a Safe and Functional Space

To protect your little one as he or she plays outdoors, it’s important to keep the following safety measures in mind.

  • Remove toxic plants that could cause painful or itchy rashes on your little one’s skin, or harm your child if ingested.

  • Find a local tree removal service to pull out dead tree stumps that present tripping hazards or that harbor pesky critters.

  • Clean up other fall risks such as large branches, pine cones, and scattered toys.

  • Build a fence to protect your child from busy roads, loud noises, pools, or other potential hazards.

  • Install a video monitoring system so you can keep an eye on your little one at all times, even if you need to step inside for a moment or two.

Keep Your Child Comfortable

While Tampa Bay residents are lucky enough to enjoy warm temperatures year-round, the summer months are often very hot and humid. And since some children on the autism spectrum have trouble coping with extreme temperatures, it’s important to keep your little one comfortable as he or she spends time outdoors throughout the summer months.

  • Add plenty of shade to protect your little one from the sun. Pergolas, umbrellas, and privacy shades are all great options.

  • Keep your child hydrated with fresh drinking water and frozen popsicles. You can also have your little one wear a cooling vest while playing outside.

  • Create a calm down corner in a shaded part of your backyard.

Consider Your Child’s Sensory Needs

Children on the autism spectrum have special sensory needs that need to be met. Here are some tips for creating a safe, fun, and sensory-friendly backyard for your little one.

  • Create a sensory garden that engages the senses and teaches your child about nature.

  • Install a sensory swing, as these have been shown to integrate the senses, ease anxiety, boost focus, and improve motor coordination.

  • Set up a bird watching station for your child to relax and observe different species of birds.

  • Turn the inside of your home into a safe haven for your child. Your child should have a safe and calming place to return to after playing outdoors.

Creating an autism-friendly backyard is a lot easier than you’d think, and these tips and resources will help you to get started. Your child can benefit greatly from spending time outdoors, but your backyard play area needs to be safe, accessible, and friendly to your little one’s senses.

Are you looking to connect with other Tampa Bay moms and their children? Visit the Tampa Bay Moms Group (TBMG) to find parenting tips, local resources, special events, and so much more!

From our Guest Author Rob Woods: Recently, a good friend’s son was diagnosed as being on the Autism spectrum. They had just moved, and because he loves being outdoors, she wanted to be sure that their backyard would be as safe and fun as possible for him. So, she enlisted help from my husband and me, and we were more than happy to help her make the backyard a safe and engaging space for him. I realized this might be helpful information for other parents of children on the Autism spectrum. So I put something together for others with tips and suggestions on creating a safe, accessible, and functional backyard for children on the Autism spectrum.


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