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Ilana Danneman
BY Ilana Danneman

6 Classic Outdoor Activities for Children With Autism

Spring has sprung, Memorial Day is almost here. If you have to pick a time of year to get outside, this is it! The weather is pleasant and even when not, you can take advantage of what the great outdoors brings during this gorgeous time of year.

Sounds, sights and feelings are at their peak therapeutic value and all you have to do is step outside. But before you do, lets take a look at my top favorite outdoor spring activities so that you can maximize the time you spend with Mother Nature.

1. Obstacle Course

6 Outdoor Activities for Children With Autism

The great outdoors provides the most awesome of obstacle courses. Jump over a stick, run around a bush, hug a tree and down the slide you go! You really don’t need much in equipment, though it can enhance your obstacle course options. Be creative and let your kids help you set it up

2. Head for the Playground

6 Outdoor Activities for Children With Autism

Who doesn’t love a playground? Well maybe your sensory avoiders, but a playground is a perfect place for kids to work on motor planning, balance, vestibular orientation, confidence and social skills. Though you don’t need to hover, stay close by for safety and to encourage some new heights and skills.
Related Post: Recess for your Child with Special Needs: 7 Challenges and Solutions

3. Hide N’ Seek

6 Outdoor Activities for Children With Autism

This game just never gets old. Most people like to play it indoors, but outdoors is great. Little kids just giggle when you find them sticking out behind a tree. You can incorporate counting, turn taking and visual perception.
Related Post: 10 Outdoor Activities that Enhance Gross Motor Skills

4. Treasure Hunt

6 Outdoor Activities for Children With Autism

Make a list and send your kids out to find the items listed. Pine needles, rocks, sticks, leaf and so one can be just a few of the items on the Treasure Hunt list. Or make it a real hunt and place notes in various spots outside. Each note can direct your kids to a new location and at the end you can have a special treasure waiting. You can even download the Geocache app and go hunting for a real hidden treasure with your kids not to far from your own backyard.
Related Post:10 Spring Activities for Children with Special Needs

5. Water Therapy

6 Outdoor Activities for Children With Autism

Of course you think I’m referring to a swimming pool, but I’m actually talking about rain! Wait for the rain and send your kids outside. With clothes or swimsuits, it doesn’t matter. Hand them an umbrella or let them just get soaked. Give them buckets to collect water and a broom to slosh it up with. The rain provides a phenomenal sensory integration experience.
Related post:  6 Ways You Can Help Your Child With Special Needs Overcome a Fear of Water

6. Rolling Along

6 Outdoor Activities for Children With Autism

Got wheels? Then your kids are good to go! Bikes, scooters and skateboards encourage balance, motor planning and linear acceleration, all necessary for effective sensory processing. Make sure helmets and pads are worn at all times! Have a reticent roller on your hands? That’s OK. Start out slowly. Try taking the pedals off the bike, lowering the seat so their feet are flat on the ground. Once they learn to walk and glide, you can put the pedals back on and raise the seat.
Related post: 17 Places to Find Funding for an Adaptive Bike

Caution

Please don’t leave your kids unattended outdoors! An ounce of prevention goes a long way. In addition, make sure their feet are protected with shoes appropriate for the outdoors and they have plenty of sunscreen applied. Have a wonderful time in the great outdoors!


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Ilana Danneman

Written on May 19, 2015 by:

Ilana Danneman is a pediatric physical therapist with over 25 years experience in the special needs field developing 100's of products, blogging, providing customer education, and catalog direction. She has worked for both School Specialty and Fun and Function and currently is a contract blogger and product developer as well as home health pediatric and geriatric physical therapist. She is currently the owner of the idea therapist and can be reached at [email protected]
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