Taking Autism Outdoors

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

"Children cannot bounce off of the walls if we take the walls away."

-Erin Kenny of Cedar Song School

Kids need a lot less walls in their lives. Being outside provides a child a feeling of freedom and the ability to move with less restrictions. A natural playground allows kids the ability to create, build, explore, learn, play, and move in ways they are not able to when indoors.

Outside, these kiddos are not told to "be careful", "don't make a mess", "no running", "quiet voices", or "no touching". Without so many rules to follow, there are a lot less rules to break. The pressure to follow so many rules is lifted and kids can focus on their bodies, emotions, and social interactions.

Here, at kidsView, children of all ages are encouraged to swim, kayak, build a fire, carve and whittle, climb, create, use a hammer, and play. Socialization is much easier when engaged in a fun and motivating activity. Sensory input comes naturally from the environment instead of having to be created with plastic and foam. Challenges feel a little less challenging. Outdoors is where kids can be themselves.

Our clinic has goats, chickens, bunnies, cats, and dogs. Animals have been scientifically proven to relieve anxiety so you can imagine how beneficial animals are to Autistic children. Animals also provide kids with feedback through nonverbal communication. When a chicken is afraid, it flaps it's wings and runs away. When a cat likes how you are petting them, it will curl up in your lap and purr. Kids tend to want the animals to stay close and will control their behavior and body language. Practicing empathy and compassion comes more easily when able to eliminate the fear of judgement. An animal just wants to be fed and loved, it doesn't care about eye contact or what you are wearing, and it doesn't make you have an uncomfortable conversation. With anxiety lifted, I am able to experience that child at his or her best and is how I am given an open door into their world without having to knock.

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