After a long winter, it seems that spring truly is around the corner. The sun is staying out later each day, the snow is melting, and the birds are starting to reappear. Throughout this beautiful time of year, consider making a point to explore nature with your child.
The Benefits of Nature for Children with ASD
It is a well-known fact that time spent outdoors benefits children in general in many ways. Alongside this, more and more research is being done today to show the benefits that time spent in nature has on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Overall, the studies have been overwhelmingly positive. Spending time in nature has been proven to help with gross and fine motor skills, sensory integration, and social-emotional skills. What other activity, especially something that’s free and doesn't require much preparation, can benefit all three of these areas? Of course, outside time can have its challenges, just like any other type of activity. The benefits of spending time in nature far outweigh the negatives, though.
Some Outdoor Activities to do with your Child:
Simply getting outside is a wonderful way to benefit your child. Go for a walk or even just play in the yard. The important thing is that your child is breathing fresh air and taking in nature wherever they look. If you’re looking for specific things to do, there are plenty of outdoor activities that will benefit your child with ASD.
You’re likely well aware of the benefits of sensory play for children with ASD. These benefits can continue being reaped outside with a variety of activities, such as jumping in puddles after a rainstorm. Your child may be interested in gathering piles of bumpy pinecones, smooth stones, and crunchy leaves. Sticks are another fun object to collect, as they come in various lengths, textures, and weights. Another great outdoor sensory activity is using shovels to dig in and scoop dirt in or near the garden.
If your child isn’t yet interested in actually feeling pieces of nature, go outside just to see it and for the chance to breathe in the fresh air. Go on a nature walk and point out familiar trees and flowers. Watch for birds, squirrels, or even bugs; whatever seems to pique the interest of your child. You can bring a pair of binoculars for bird watching or a magnifying glass for spotting insects. You may even walk to consider taking a walk to a nearby pond and watching the ducks swim by. If you don’t get to see any ducks, the calm movements in the water are great to take in as well.
Bring Nature Indoors
Try not to feel discouraged if your child does not want to play outside when the time comes. If they would be more comfortable with staying indoors, consider bringing nature inside. Let your child help care for house plants, and compare the green leaves to the ones you see opening up outside your living room window. Start seeds that can later be used in an outdoor vegetable garden. Hang a bird feeder near your home and wait to see what kinds of critters visit throughout the season.
Consider Bringing a Chew Outside
It’s important to keep in mind that nature is filled with items that you don’t necessarily want to go in your child’s mouth. If your child is an oral sensory seeker, consider bringing a chew outside with them so they have a safe alternative for their need to chew.
ChuBuddy has a chew for every chewer. Chew Pendants or Chew Holders may be the best options to use for outdoor time, since they are meant to stay with your child at all times, and their around-the-neck holders keep them from being set down in outdoor spaces that may be less than clean.
No matter how you choose to spend your outside time with your child this spring, keep the benefits of nature in mind and consider making it a priority. The fresh air, along with the new experiences, is nothing but beneficial for your child with ASD. Enjoying the beautiful weather throughout this spring season is just a bonus!