Social engagement can be difficult for individuals on the autism spectrum, especially during mandatory outside play times like school recess. Often, students with autism might feel isolated from their peers on the playground.
The experience of recess can be overstimulating and undesirable and because of this, they may miss out on important developmental experiences. Unfortunately, most schools cannot fun or the lack the resources to accommodate students with special needs.
[email protected], a school for children with special needs, located in Long Island City, New York, has gone to extra mile help accommodate their students. Teachers at the school approached council member Jimmy Van Bramer in 2015 with the idea to turn an empty yard into a sensory-focused, special needs playground.
The games they play: Observations of children with autism spectrum disorder on the school playground, a student done by Jill Locke and her colleagues at the University of Washington examines children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their behavior on the playground. They acknowledge exclusion on the playground and encourage educators to create an atmosphere that will be more inclusive for all children.
The $250,000 playground is designed for children with motor skill and sensory issues, which are common for individuals with autism. It features “touch and feel areas”, rock climbing, and a slide, according to the LICPost.
“Now, we are able to not only address educational and social skills but now play. This is a wonderful experience for our students,” said Acting Interim Principal Alison Quinlain of the K-8 school to the LICPost.