Friday 25 August 2017

Tips to help get our kids outside

A sensory child in the garden

All the kids use the garden all year round and this is a great time to maximise it's use in our home. Fresh air and nature are always a good thing, and if you have a back garden; you have instant access to both, but it's not always easy for our family.  Autistic and many other kids can need to regulate their sensory systems - how their body reacts to the world around them.

Sometimes it can be a challenge for us to tempt the family outside and tear them away from the comforts they seek inside. I'm all for the kids doing whatever works for them, but I can make being outside more enticing. The time spent in the garden can be more beneficial and educational for them by fulfilling their sensory needs, whether they are sensory seekers (having a desire to seek out touch, light, smells or movement) or the exact opposite (shying away from the same).  Here's some of the things we do:

When our kids are Sensory Seekers

- It's all about feeling. Our mini festival was a hit because the kids could engage their sensory systems by listening to music, watching and playing with flags and even having outside picnic food.  Sometimes because it's a different place the kids will eat something different. Most of the time though it's just the same food in the garden!  Our autism kids do love routine.

- We get them moving about with a trampoline - like many autistic and ADHD kids ours love to bounce, but Jane also joins in too. They get lots of use out of the climbing wall on our climbing frame which is really good for their motor skills development. And our hammock under the frame doubles as a swing.

- We encourage them to run through, yes I said through, the border bushes and plants as it adds to their feeling and the sensory seeker loves running around the grass bare foot too. Just make sure you keep stones and other hard or gooey things away so save their feet getting hurt.

Jane is gentle with the plants

- This kind of fun can continue even when it's darker. Fairy and festoon lights will make pretty additions to your outside space during the evening.

- Some kids love to pick and nibble on fresh berries, which is a great way to get some fruit into their diet, but make sure there is nothing in your garden that could make them really sick or anything too spiky.

- Plants can also be a great learning activity for seekers. Our boys find being 'gentle' really difficult, so Jane shows them how to be gentle around plants.  It may be a good idea to plant and  collect some fruit and veg from the garden.  It's an opportunity to learn about being gentle and caring. Not always easy, but it's a start. If nothing else the promise of water play with the hose after watering the plants is often popular.  Tomato plants are particularly popular here.

When our kids need to hide or be calm  

- If everyone has a comfy spot to sit and relax; more people will be encouraged to enjoy the garden on a regular basis. We have places in our small garden for the kids to hide - close themselves off when they are overwhelmed. A bench hidden in the trees blocks out bright lights, sounds and wind. We've also set up a play area under our climbing frame with old tiny tyres tied together for seats which is great for those seeking sensory solace. Simply bringing out cushions from the living area can help kids feel at ease outside.  Our hammock can be great to place to hide away too.

A cosy space for those seeking sensory solace

- All our kids find sweet smells comforting and have a great sense of smell. Having sweet smelling flowers and fruit trees also help them to relax and enjoy the garden.

- Sometimes they feel too much.  One day it's about getting all the senses engaged and others it's about closing them off.  If the grass is wet in the morning, David will sometimes not go further than the patio, so a pair of crocs or other shoes nearby means he will venture out.

What ideas do you have for sensory kids in the garden?


  1. My youngest has autism and the trampoline has been a godsend! He'll even go on it when it's covered in snow!
    He had an aversion to going on walks anywhere for about 2 years which was SO hard, but when I suggested he could take his ipad to take photos and videos he decided to give it a go. I was willing to try anything at that point and hey - it worked! These days he doesn't need the ipad with him when we go for a walk which is wonderful. :)

  2. #dreamteam I love this, outside space and time is essential for all of us (I love a hide in the garden ssshhhh)

  3. Lovely post. I have worked with children on the spectrum and they have always loved their trampoline. They have also loved spinning and finding insects in the garden. #BrillBlogposts

  4. Such good ideas here - really helpful post. #ablogginggoodtime xx

  5. Fab ideas, keep meaning to make a 'hiding' space and haven't got round to it yet! #kcacols

  6. Fab tips. Working on my garden at the mo to make it more inviting for little one. Going to bare these tips in mind.

    Thanks for linking up to #KCACOLS hope you come back again.

  7. These are fab tips! We haven't done much to our garden yet - we need to though #KCACOLS

  8. What a delightful post. There is so much to discover and great in outdoor spaces. We make great use of nature to explore senses in our farm activities too. Popping by from #KCACOLS

  9. Love this! Our garden needs a lot of TLC and a trampoline is definitely on the list!
    I've also got my eye on a nice bench swing/arbour which I think would be lovely to sit on with my little sensory seeker for company!


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