What is a Sensory Playground?
Is there anything more representative of being a child than a playground? The playground is a youthful epicenter of exploration, social interactions and physical exertion.
But the traditional playground can be overwhelming for children who struggle with sensory input.
The sensitivity of children with ASD to sensory stimulation can leave them feeling confused, withdrawn and even aggressive. Playgrounds are noisy, physical places that sometimes present a tremendous challenge to these children.
So, what is a sensory playground and how can it help your ASD spectrum child?
A targeted solution
A sensory playground looks a lot like other playgrounds – a place for kids to play.
But a sensory playground provides a solution for children on the spectrum. Specifically designed to meet their needs, a sensory playground offers ASD children the type of sensory input they’re most comfortable with, while fostering enhanced motor skills, balance and coordination.
Some key features of the sensory playground are:
- A fenced area which prevents kids wandering off or fleeing in panic due to becoming overstimulated.
- Surfaces anticipate impact (soft) due to the tendency of autistic children to take greater risks. Falls happen and sensory playgrounds make accommodation for these.
- Areas of quiet are built in as refuges from overstimulation. These might take the form of a quiet hillock, an alcove or a playhouse, where children can escape from excessive sensory input to collect themselves.
- Increased space between play equipment gives children more leeway, preventing them from running into one another.
- Individual games which don’t require collaboration. These may include kaleidoscopes, mirrors, clock panels or labyrinths. The goal is independent play which allows ASD children to play on their own terms.
The sensory playground should always include sensory panels. These offer ASD children individual play, allowing them to experience a variety of sensory stimuli.
In a sensory playground, nature takes center stage. Children are encouraged to dig in and build with dirt and sand, to encounter plant life, as well as birds, butterflies and local insects.
Children are naturally curios and that curiosity is fostered in the sensory playground to appeal especially to those with sensory challenges.
Sensory playgrounds give autistic children the experience of the playground but on their own terms. When the noise and physicality of childhood play become too much, there are ways for ASD kids to escape excessive stimulation, without having to go home.
Inclusive, while allowing autistic children space for their unique way of perceiving and experiencing the world, sensory playgrounds add a little bit of what ASD children need to interact with the world comfortably.
Fun Factory Sensory Gym
Fun Factory Sensory Gym is the world’s only company that brings you fully bonded and insured multi-sensory environments from concept to completion. Whether you’re installing a Fun Factory Sensory Gym in a home or clinic, it’s ready to use and enjoy the minute it’s installed.
You’ll be amazed at the spaces in your home which are potentially adaptable to an installation, from the garage to the attic.
Contact us to find out more about sensory playgrounds and multi-sensory environments.