Contributed by Jenny Wise
As a parent, keeping your kids safe is your top priority, especially in your own yard. If you’re a
parent of a child on the autism spectrum, you have some extra concerns to think about. Luckily,
there are some simple ways to keep your backyard safe, fun, and accessible for children on the
spectrum. Follow these steps to keep your whole family safe.
1. Check Fences and Gates Often
Children who are on the spectrum can wander or bolt suddenly. That’s why having a secure,
functional fence is essential. If you don’t have a fence, consider having one installed. If you have
a fence, do a perimeter sweep on a regular basis to check for structural issues. To keep your
kids extra safe, install a keyed or combination lock on any gates they have access to while
outside. This ensures that a strong wind, or curious hand, won’t be able to swing gates open.
2. Keep Lawns and Patios Clean
Sensory issues can make your children sensitive to scratchy grass or slippery spots. Aside from
sensory issues, problems with your patio and yard can also cause other issues. Children can trip
and injure themselves when running over holes in the ground or loose portions of patios. Do a
check from time to time of your yard, and try to keep things tidy. If you have trees in your yard,
get out some good gloves and be sure to trim loose branches.
3. Set Up Safe, Accessible Fun
There are so many fun activities you can set up for your kids on the spectrum, but sometimes
your children may want to have some traditional backyard fun. Swing sets are always a great
addition to any family’s backyard, but be sure your family is practicing swing set safety. Falls
and accidents can cause serious injury, so always supervise your children when swinging.
Helmets and knee pads can make falls less serious and give you peace of mind. Look for the
best swing sets to suit your family’s needs, and be sure to follow installation instructions when
setting it up.
4. Be Aware of Toxic Plants
All children, including those on the spectrum, tend to explore the world with all of their senses.
This includes putting things they shouldn’t in their mouths. If you’re new to your backyard, you
may want to take a look around and make sure there aren’t any potentially poisonous plants.
Common backyard plants, like azalea and iris, can be dangerous when consumed by people or
pets. While less common, poison ivy and sumac can creep their way into home gardens as well
and cause painful rashes that will be especially bothersome to children with sensory issues. Get
these plants out of your yard, and always research new plants before you choose to put them in
reach of children.
5. Install a Safety System
Gates and fences are good for keeping your children safe, but a security system can give you
added peace of mind. You can review and buy a video monitoring system online and install it
yourself, or have a professional security company do it for you. Having video surveillance will
allow you to keep an eye on your children if you need to run back inside real quick or want to
give them some alone time outdoors. If you have a pool, a video system can help keep kids
safe, but think about installing a pool alarm as well.
6. Provide Some Shade!
Children on the spectrum may have a harder time keeping track of time and may be more
prone to sunburns. Provide some shaded playtime for your children when they are having fun
in the yard. Consider setting up a pergola, some sunshades, or umbrellas to cover portions of
the yard. When your children are out in the sun, keep them covered with sunscreen, hats, and
sunglasses. Don’t forget to cover their ears as well!
Setting up an accessible, safe haven in your backyard can encourage outdoor play and
development. Follow these tips to keep your family having fun in your yard and making only the
best of memories with each other.