Play sets (school)
Install play sets such as swings, trampolines, merry-go-rounds on school playgrounds
Garden /outside area (functions)
motor awkwardness, sensory limitations (proprioceptive and vestibular), limitations in social interaction
In order to
train motor functions, have fun playing and stimulating the proprioceptive and vestibular senses.
Playing on a swing, turning (on an office chair for instance), trampoline jumping and other rhythmical movements are activities which stimulate both proprioception (the registration and interpretation of one’s muscle tension and other internal bodily experiences) and the vestibular system (balance and the further orientation of the body in space).
It may seem childish to put sturdy swings in the garden of an adolescent, but they do enjoy it, it relaxes them and it boosts their bodily self-confidence. A trampoline can have these effects as well. In both activities, the effect has to do with sensing the strong forces of ‘flying’ and landing. Through the sensations of trampoline jumping and swinging, possible proprioceptive and vestibular problems are overruled.
Such experiences help boost the usually impeded motor skills.
It should be noted that many autistic children have deviating pain experiences. Special play sets for them have the added advantage that they don’t use the regular, more dangerous sets, provided attention is paid to the safety of the ones which replace them. (See touch and pain in school and recommendation 119.)
Children and adolescents who are often excluded from team sports such as football or baseball due to communication difficulties and insufficient motor skills have an alternative with these play sets. A sturdy play set has at least three functions: an alternative to the team-games from which they are excluded, the safe enhancement of motor skills and an opportunity to begin the process of “catching up” with the neurotypicals.