Designing a Safe Backyard for a Child with Autism

Designing a Safe Backyard

This week’s post is a guest post by Linda Robinson. Linda is a working mom who dabbles in photography and French cooking in her spare time. She created her website,, to connect with other parents who work to bring out the best in their kids by encouraging them to chase their dreams and forgiving themselves when they fall short.  

When you have a child on the autism spectrum, you want to ensure that every room in your home is carefully designed with their needs in mind. As a parent, you might be wondering how you can transform your backyard into a functional and accessible space where your child can play safely. If you’re raising a child with autism, these resources will help you renovate your backyard with your child’s safety, abilities, and interests in mind. 

Making Your Backyard Accessible

You’ll want to ensure that your backyard is a relatively quiet space without features that would pose a risk for your child.

  • Your child may be easily startled by loud sounds and ambient noise, so install noise-reduction fixtures in your backyard.
  • Make it easy for your child to navigate your backyard by creating wide footpaths and setting up handrails.
  • Being poked with twigs or thorns can be especially distressing for a child with autism. Try basic DIY landscaping to eliminate this issue.

Fun Backyard Features

Now that your backyard is safe and secure, you can begin some DIY construction projects and design fun play areas that your child will love.

  • Build a sandbox for your child so that they can explore new tactile sensations.
  • Set up a picnic table where your child can enjoy a snack or a drink when they’re tired.

Designate a playhouse or cozy tent as a “calm down” space where your child can rest if they need to unwind

Learning with Outdoor Activities

You can turn your backyard into a creative outdoor classroom and encourage your child to learn hands-on with these exciting activities!

  • Put together a butterfly feeder with your child to teach them about your local wildlife!
  • From creating hot air balloons to identifying leaves and flowers, these backyard science experiments will keep your child engaged.
  • Help your child get some exercise by designing an outdoor obstacle course that suits their abilities!

As the parent of a child with autism, you might feel nervous about playing in your backyard with your child if it wasn’t specifically designed to be accessible. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools you can use to ensure that your child will feel safe and comfortable in your backyard. Once you’ve finished with your renovation efforts, you and your child will enjoy countless beautiful days in the backyard together!

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  1. 2nd July 2020 / 6:06 pm

    Brilliant advice – we have used lockdown to make a nature area at the bottom of the garden and are trying to encourage as many creatures into it as possible. The kids have loved it x

  2. 8th July 2020 / 11:44 pm

    We only have a small garden but it’s still worth so much to us to have that private outdoor space, and I like the ideas for learning activities above. When it comes to safety, I’d add consider fencing or hedges and lockable gates (depending on the child’s needs and abilities), and also be vigilant and always present, especially if you have any water features like a pool or pond (which are great from a sensory perspective but of course also a risk for drowning). I’ve also seen several social media posts recently of children making ‘potions’ etc with garden plants, and while that’s lovely, not everyone seems to be aware that some garden plants (like foxgloves, for example) are seriously poisonous and potentially deadly if eaten. Sorry to be morbid, but there is a lot to consider if your really wish to create a SAFE backyard 😉 xx

    • admin
      10th July 2020 / 7:47 pm

      Some really great points Malin. My husband did a plant audit in our garden when the kids were little and we had three we ended up taking out because they were poisonous if eaten! Lockable gates and fences are a big must for us too. So helpful to know the kids are safe we have two locked gates between the garden and street now as we live on main road and can’t risk particularly my youngest getting into the road.

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