Creating a Safe Backyard for Children with Autism
Right now in the United States, about 1 in 59 children have autism. That is a prevalence rate of 1.7 percent, which is an increase from 1 in 68 children (1.5 percent) in 2016. We will define Autism Spectrum Disorder in detail later on. But it’s important to note that a 2008 study found that the mortality rate among people with autism is double that of the unaffected population.
Moreover, autistic people often demonstrate character traits that leave them vulnerable to getting into accidents. These include an insensitivity to pain, a lack of reasonable fear or wariness and, at times, an unresponsiveness to sound. That’s why it’s important for parents with autistic children to create a safe, accessible, and functional backyard for them to play in. Here are some tips to start.
What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is complex, but it can be thought of as a disability in which somebody has difficulty communicating with or relating to other people. The consensus between experts seems to be that symptoms of autism manifest in the first three years of life. Another prevailing characteristic is that autistic people adhere to habit. They find change to be scary, and it may produce fits of anger or panic. Conversely, they typically engage in repetitive actions – watching the same movie over and over, or following the same schedule each day and so on. Autistic toddlers or young children may lick or sniff objects of interest, fixate on a single item – even sharp ones – and self-mutilate or betray no sensitivity to cuts, burns or scrapes. So it’s crucial that you make your property safe so that your child doesn’t accidentally hurt himself.
If your backyard doesn’t resemble a Pinterest photo of suburban Eden, that’s OK. Just be sure to remove potential hazards from it. That might involve filling in holes, removing thorny bushes, or destroying fire ant mounds.
Keep bottles of pesticides high up on shelves in the garage, and dig out any plants you’ve sprayed with those pesticides, because their blooms may have absorbed toxins. To avoid getting them on you, consider purchasing the right gloves while you’re out there. And it may be a good idea to retire the trampoline, as well. A recent study found that, over a nine-year time span, more than 1 million people went to the ER because of injuries sustained while on a trampoline.
Finally, install a fence. Nationwide, the average cost of installing a fence is $2,401. But it’s worth it to keep your kids and pets safe from thieves and trespassers, or from wandering off.
As of spring 2017, 18.99 million people lived in households with a spa, pool or hot tub. All of that could be lots of fun, but it’s also important to implement safety measures, as well. Those might include putting a safety cover over the pool in the off-season months, and a gate around it. Also, think about investing in a good pool alarm. These usually divide into gate, pressure, perimeter, and wearable. Gate alarms sound when someone tries opening the gate.
With a pressure alarm, whenever anyone goes in the water, a sensor tube detects the ripples and goes off. A perimeter alarm, meanwhile, creates a laser field that triggers an alarm once somebody passes through them. Finally, a wearable alarm is one that you attach to your child’s wrist, and it trips the alert if he dips into the water.
While all these precautions may seem overwhelming, they don’t have to keep you from enjoying your backyard or playing with your children. You can take this time to plan out landscaping projects that make your property lush with plants, rock gardens and raised vegetable beds. Best of all, it’s safe for the whole family.
Image via Unsplash
About the Author:
Danny is a dad living in Philadelphia. He enjoys DIY projects almost as much as raising his two children. He is the co-creator of FixItDads.com, which offers tips for home improvement projects.