One of the things that I have found most surprising about autism parenting is the amount of money we have spent on mattresses. My son is very much a sensory-seeking kid, and he needs the deep joint pressure that comes from jumping and running. He has turned jumping into an art form, and we have discovered that it is possible for a child to break a mattress by jumping on it.
We slowed down the carnage somewhat by investing in a small trampoline to put in our living room. We also decided to do something about the playgroundless state of our back yard. Fortunately I have a husband who knows how to build stuff, and easy access to places like Rona. We put together a playground design and purchased the materials, and we started building.
Over the course of a summer, the playground started to take shape. We built a couple of platforms for the kids to climb onto, and we attached a couple of slides to it. With the basics in place, the kids now had something to play on. Both of them were in heaven. They had a way to expend their natural energy, and my older son was able to satisfy his deep pressure needs without breaking the furniture.
Since we built the structure, it has gradually evolved. We added a climbing wall, and later, a tube slide. Last summer, the kids figured out exactly where to position their pool so that they could use their slide as a water slide. We attached a pirate ship playhouse, complete with a ship’s steering wheel and a telescope.
The kids have found their own uses for the playground as well. One day, I went outside to look for them in the rain, and found them sheltered under a little tent on one of the platforms. They were having a grand old time in there, my older son with his Lego and my younger son with a colouring book.
This playground, which started as something we were going to build to give my son an alternative to jumping on beds, has turned into one of those perpetual projects that will never end. It is fun to see what more we can do with it, especially now that the boys are old enough to have some input.
I look forward to seeing what the next addition will be.
This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle, published in accordance with my disclosure policy. Photo credit to the author.