Safety should always be your first concern when designing a backyard sanctuary for any kind of child. But when it’s the matter of kids with disabilities, the safety features should be taken to the next level. Let’s take a little look at the classification of your backyard. Any landscape contains two different kinds of elements, they are living and non-living. The living elements of your backyard can be trees, grass, etc. And the non-living elements may include tables, deck, etc. So, let’s take a look at a safe way to incorporate both softscape (living) and hardscape (non-living) elements into your backyard.
Highlight the Fact that it is a Backyard Area
Remember the fact that you are working this hard on designing a backyard sanctuary to give your kid a taste of the outside. So, make sure you don’t fill the space up too much and keep the outdoorsy vibe going. Do not make things crowded and create a specific pathway so that your child can easily identify where the garden begins.
Keeping the pathways wide keeps the area a lot open and if your child is going to be in a wheelchair, wide pathways will help a lot. Whether or not there is a wheelchair, wide paths add a nice little navigating clarity to the child.
Handholds should be Installed
It is very important for you to install handholds along the pathway, in the seating area, etc. when planning on installing handholds, the height should be measured from a 90-degree angle from the floor. One thing you should keep in mind is that handholds shouldn’t raise above 28 inches. Handholds should at least be 9 inches away from each other so that kids dont get their head or hands trapped inside them.
If you are unable to install handholds anywhere else, make sure you have them along the pathways at least, they will help a lot. Remember to install them on both sides of the pathway.
Keep it Constant
One of the most important things you should keep in mind is that once you have found a spot for something, keep it there. Strive to be consistent, do not just go about changing the layout of the benches, bird feeder, etc. Come up with a layout and once you do, stick to it without making any changes.
After the child has gotten used to the area, you can make small changes in order to challenge as a part of the learning journey. But, major changes might not end well. A child with any sort of disability feels better and safe when they are familiar with what’s gonna come next. When they know what to expect, the level of confidence and happiness is high.
Plan the Backyard to be the Child’s World
You have to do everything in your hand to make the kid feel at home in the backyard. For instance, let’s take an example of a visually impaired child. If your child doesn’t have a vision, no matter how much outside beauty you put in, that’s of no use. Put yourself in their shoes and think. What will they enjoy?
When you are designing the backyard for a visually impaired child, create the signs to different play areas in braille so that they can understand where they are heading to. To make the kid feel happy and belonging, you should first stop thinking from the perspective of a perfectly alright human being. When you understand what they are going through and what they enjoy, it’ll be a lot easier to create a little world for your child.
Slow transitions are a lot easier to process for a child with disabilities. Do not throw things at them like they can sense everything just like you. Sudden actions actually end up scaring the children if they are not warned about them in advance. While switching from one activity to the other, give the child some time. Give them verbal or visual hints about what’s gonna happen next.
As said earlier, kids with disabilities feel a lot safer when they know what they are being faced with. So, before switching to a completely different activity or task, tell them about it so that they know what’s coming and don’t feel terrified.
Install Fencing Around the Play Area
The main goal of creating a backyard sanctuary is to create a safe place where your kid can have fun. Installing fencing around the play area prevents the kid from going to places where they are not supposed to. Make sure that the fence is at least 5 feet tall so the child cannot get out of it. You need to be extra sure that your child is safe and is enjoying the amazingness you have created inside.
1. Outdoor activity improves the overall physical activity of the child
If you provide a larger space for the child to roam around and have fun, the child is just feeling a lot safer and gets a lot of exercises. Exercise obviously makes him/her more physically fit and the sense of safety provides good mental health.
In case a kid is suffering from autism, he or she is more prone to obesity. Such kids also find simple tasks like catching an object difficult. This is because the child focuses on his/her own muscles rather than the object. A backyard area makes it easy for the kid to feel safe and have fun. At the same time, they also get time to work on their motor skills and stay physically fit as well.
2. Increases imagination and the sense of wonder
Kid’s stories and many wonderful books you read for them to get them to sleep improve the imagination power drastically. Children reach a completely different place in their imagination. For kids with disabilities, a wonderful backyard will enhance this.
3. Increases the ability to concentrate
Blackboards and benches are absolutely fine but if you manage to create a creative learning space for your child in the backyard, he/she will do a much better job. I am not saying that the efforts that teachers put in are useless but learning in a natural way surrounded by nature makes everything much easier. If you are sharing a live experience of the information you are sharing, the process just gets simpler.
4. Reduces stress
If you manage to make the child feel familiar with the surroundings, it is easier for him/her to explore around. When they have a disability, having surrounding that they feel familiar with is important to reduce stress. Feeling stressed can cause a lot of issues and if the child feels safe and loved, it’s easy to work with the learning curve.
5. Enhances the motor agility, coordination, fitness
The ability to walk, climb, and jump are the basic motor skills, and are they are also the pillars for the development of further skills. Development of motor skills requires a lot of concentration, coordination, and agility. Motor skills are definitely very important and a big and perfect backyard sanctuary provides your child with a good place to exercise these skills and perfect them.
If the child is learning to walk, a clean, safe, and flat place give your child a perfect area to practice these skills.
6. Increases vitamin D levels
Now more than ever, vitamin D is very important to both boost immunity levels and to stay fit. Especially for kids with disabilities, health and immunity is an important aspect. The benefits that are provided from a natural source are always important and spending time in an open area gives your kid all of those benefits.
Taking care of any sort of kid is a big task and creating a backyard play area does come with a lot of things to look into. Kids with disabilities need 10 times the amount of care a normal child would need, you need to supervise and help them with everything. When building a backyard sanctuary for such children, there are a lot of concerns. We hope that this article was able to highlight some of the main things you should focus on while building a backyard sanctuary for kids with disabilities.