Welcome Children With Autism on Your Playground Using These Simple Planning TipsBy Kaplan, Mara; Let Kids Play!!,
Publication Date: March 4, 2009
Article offers advice for designing a playground that is welcoming to children with autism. In the planning stage, consideration should be given to the sensory processing abilities of children diagnosed on the autism spectrum with regard to the tactile, vestibular (movement and gravity), and proprioceptive (muscle and joint information) senses. Recommendations include: (1) a fence surrounding the playground; (2) inclusion of nature, such as gardens, grassy areas, and trees; (3) safety surfacing that meets or exceeds all guidelines; (4) quiet areas where an over-stimulated child can go to regroup; (5) playground equipment spaced apart, enabling a child to play without touching another child; (6) equipment that swings, goes around in circles, and enables children to climb and jump, as well as equipment such as monkey bars from which a child can hang; (7) different kinds of slides, which are very popular with children with autism; (8) a large sandbox, as the weight of sand will calm some children; (9) play panels such as tic-tac-toe or a marble maze where a child can play by herself; and (10) tunnels to crawl through, to enforce the sense of the body in space. The inclusion of parents, occupational therapists, and children with autism in the playground design process is also recommended.
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