Creating a Safe Backyard for Autistic Children

Autism spectrum disorder is a term that’s become more familiar to Americans over the last few generations. The condition is complex, but its hallmarks include difficulty socializing, repetitive behaviors, and challenges with communicating. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in 68 children in the U.S. are autistic. Specifically, one in 42 boys and one in 189 girls. About one-third of people with autism remain nonverbal, and one-third have an intellectual disability. That’s why, if your child is autistic, it’s important for you to attend to his or her needs and create a safe, accessible, and functional space, including the backyard. Here are some tips to help get you started.


Pool Safety

According to the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP), there are currently 309,000 public swimming pools and 10.4 million residential pools in the United States. That’s a lot of pools, so if you have one in your backyard, it’s probably best to implement pool safety so that certain precautions seem normal to your child. Visit websites that list some of the best pool alarms out there, analyzing features that might best fit your needs. Most pool alarms come equipped with electronic sensors that sound an alarm when a child 18 pounds or more enters the water without warning (higher-end models are available for under $200). At the same time, you also don’t want to teach your child to be afraid of the pool. Consider accompanying him to swim lessons from an early age so that he or she understands how to swim but also to not dip into the pool unsupervised.



Good fences make good neighbors, but they also provide a range of other benefits. These include boosting property value, giving you some privacy, keeping dogs from wandering, and protecting your children from leaving (and from trespassers). Be sure to install a child-proof lock on the fence so that they can’t slip out. Sand down any rough edges so they don’t get splinters from touching it. And be wary of any branches overhanging the fence so that nothing from an overhanging canopy falls on your kid – or anyone else in your family. Installing a wood fence in Orlando averages just over $2,200, so you may have to budget for the expense.


Lawn Maintenance

A bright lawn, irises bursting into bloom, robins hopping in the trees – beautiful backyards have an enchantment about them that your child will most likely remember for a long time. But a garden can also be a hazard zone if not maintained well. Scope out your grounds to make sure rabbits and moles haven’t hollowed out any holes where your child could fall or twist an ankle. Although they can be resplendent, be wary of planting cacti, especially if the spikes grow eye-level with your kid. Also, be careful when you’re using the mower or the weed-whacker at the same time that your child is around. For your own safety, consider picking up a good pair of gloves to assist you with any yard work that involves removing dangerous plants such as poison ivy. Finally, reconsider using pesticides or other chemical sprays on your plants. If your child is young enough, he may confuse the liquid with water and accidentally drink it, especially if you leave the bottle on a low shelf in the garage.


One of the prerogatives of childhood is to run outdoors into summer twilights, catching fireflies and staring up at the stars. Don’t limit your kid to staying inside, and try not to hover above them during playtime. Instead, invest some time in making sure that playing outdoors is safe. Draw pictures on the sidewalk, install a swing-set with cocoon swings, or have a picnic as a family. Keep children active and engaged to build confidence and fill their lives with fun.


Credit: Daniel Sherwin (

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