Children with Special Needs: Exploring the Outdoors

Playground. Play Area, Park
Valenza in Sta. Rosa, Laguna by Crown Asia

Children should always be able to play outside. Even those with special needs. No. You don’t need to upgrade playgrounds in schools or parks. They need to be supervised.


The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services estimates that for every seven children, one is diagnosed with developmental disabilities. The ratio in the autism spectrum disorder ASD is one in 68. Children with special needs often have limitations such as getting tired quickly, difficulty in communicating, or other sensory problems, which might make being in the outdoors challenging.

But child development experts agree that outdoor activities are suitable even for those with developmental disabilities. If your child is special or you work as a teacher or caregiver for children with special needs, the following discussion provides helpful insights on letting them experience the outdoors.

Recognizing Challenges

The key to allowing children with special needs to be outside is first to recognize but not set aside the challenges and difficulties. They won’t have the social skills to establish a connection with other kids. Some of them might have trouble speaking, let alone communicating. Recognizing these challenges will allow you when to intervene with the child’s activities if he can’t communicate appropriately with other children or when he suddenly becomes more withdrawn. Your job is to recognize the signal for a “time out” and give them the special attention that they need.

Outdoor Activities to Enjoy

Just like other kids, children with special needs, need to sweat, to exert themselves physically, and to be introduced to their surroundings through touch, sight, and other sensory mechanisms. Here are a few things you need to consider when taking children with different needs outside:

These are just three things that you can do with your child outdoors. You can significantly improve your child’s physical, mental, and social skills. Incorporating sensory and physical activities will be rewarding as your child grows up. So explore the outdoors now!

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