Outdoor Activities for Your Child With Autism

Tuesday August 10, 2021 at 1:48 PM


Outdoor Activities for Your Child With Autism

Now that warm weather is here, it’s a great time to plan some outdoor activities with the family! Whether it’s a walk in the park, a trip to the beach, or even just blowing bubbles out in the yard, some fresh air could be just the thing to help add some fun and variety after being stuck inside all winter. In this month’s issue of Metro Parent, Nicholette Christodoulou, BCBA and Clinical Director at Gateway’s Bingham Farms location, offers tips and ideas on how to make the most of outdoor opportunities with your child.

Christodoulou states that most kids love an opportunity to go outside, and that kids with autism can start to feel frustrated when stuck in an enclosed space for too long. She adds that the change of pace from going outside can help children with autism reset, and could be beneficial for their therapy as well. Out in the natural environment, there are opportunities to work on programs with new examples aside from the same pictures and objects seen every day around the house. From counting clouds and birds to labeling colors, there are a number of ways to complete programs out in the natural environment that are innovative and will help keep your child interested and engaged.

An important thing to think about when choosing activities to do outdoors with your child is whether or not your child has the motor skills or motivation to complete the activities you’re planning. Christodoulou notes that, as an example, if your child likes to go on the swings but does not know how to pump their legs yet to swing independently, they may have less fun. A good plan would be to select activities that you know your child likes and can do, or be ready to provide some additional support in order to put them in the best position to succeed and enjoy themselves. It may also be beneficial to alter some activities to match your child’s skill level to help ensure success.

In order to help create a positive experience for any activity, planning is key. If your child likes knowing what they should expect, a visual schedule or social story will be very helpful. Christodoulou says that reviewing these with your child well in advance can create a more successful and enjoyable experience. Planning an activity with a peer who shares similar interests can also make the outing more fun and provide a level of comfort for your child, and can also allow your child to learn from their peers in a natural setting.

Finally, it’s a good idea to keep your child’s ABA team in the loop on any unexpected successes that may occur from events like a camping trip with the family or a day at the beach. Christodoulou states that keeping an open line of communication can help the team incorporate more of what your child likes at home into the therapeutic setting, and can open up opportunities for new activities that your child may not have known they liked before.

Thank you for reading, I hope you found this post helpful and enjoyable! Be sure to follow us on social media to see what’s new with Gateway, and stay up to date on the latest blogs for more tips and guides. Have a great day!

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