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Why your Autistic Child Should Play Outside

03 Jan, 2017

Why your Autistic Child Should Play Outside

Children with autism spectrum disorder often have difficulty learning to interact with their environment. Their atypical sensitivities to different types of sensory stimuli can lead them to seek out certain sensations, while avoiding others that cause them discomfort. Parents understandably don’t want their kids to feel overwhelmed, and often keep their young kids in a controlled environment to help keep them comfortable.

While that’s certainly a good thing in terms of providing a safe space, it’s very important to also allow your child to experience an engaging and diverse sensory environment. That means playing outside, which quite often means the all popular outdoor kids swings. Going out and seeking out these new experiences can be scary, but they can also be instrumental in your child’s development.


  Sensory Variety Allows for Experimentation
 

The world outside is a big place, and playing outside does not have to mean crowded raucous playgrounds. Listening to the sound of birds, the sensation of walking or jumping on different surfaces like sand or grass, or watching the way shadows move as plants sway in the wind could be a soothing experience for your little one. Making these discoveries early can help her to manage and soothe herself as she grows, allowing her to feel better and function more easily.


  Outdoor Play Improves Motor Skills
 

Many autistic kids have difficulty coordinating their physical movements. Dyspraxia can manifest in many different ways, but often children will need to spend a lot of time and directed effort on learning new movements. Outside play allows kids to work out how to deal with a lot of unique physical demands, and provides a less monotonous way to practice things like balance and hand-eye coordination.


  Diverse Opportunities for Expression
 

Not only are there a lot of different opportunities for external sensory stimulation outside in your backyard or at the local playground, interactive possibilities also multiply. Outside, with proper supervision, there’s nothing wrong with breaking twigs, banging sticks against things, jumping on and off of things, throwing leaves, and being loud.

This gives your child a space to express themselves in ways that aren’t as acceptable inside. Being allowed to let loose like this relieves stress, and provides an outlet for strong emotions and impulses.


  Building Social and Communication Skills
 

Playing outside with other children is also a great way to develop communication and social skills. Negotiating who’s turn it is to go on the outdoor swings, playing cooperative games, and learning to make friends with minimal interference from parents and caregivers can help your child develop adaptive skills that will make her life easier and more enjoyable going forward.

Every parent wants their child to become a well-rounded adult, and it’s a parent’s job to give them the tools to make that possible. Playing outside is an important and fun way to help your child develop the diverse skills she needs to function well as she grows up. Leave a comment and let us know how playing outside has helped your child!

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