The Sensory Garden Playground in Lisle offers children of all abilities the chance to play, socialize, commune with nature, and experience sensory stimuli in ways accessible and acceptable to all children, including those with special needs.
For children with autism, sensory overload can be a stumbling block. To minimize distractions, the garden is set in a wooded area, away from streets and traffic, where the mood is tranquil and the surroundings are calming and peaceful, allowing children with autism an opportunity to escape from chaos, noise, and overstimulation and revel in the peace of a beautiful, natural setting.
Here, children experience the sights, smells, and sounds of nature where they learn about the world around them and find joy and serenity.
While the park encourages exploration and active play, it does so in a low tech, fun way with select sensory experiences designed to elicit wonder and smiles. Play for All is a place where parents can feel confident that their children are in a safe environment.
When children with autism are overstimulated, they may feel the impulse to run or wander. At Play for All, the perimeter is contained, thereby limiting risk from roadways, traffic or other hazards.
There are sound and fragrance gardens, interactive sculptures and landscaping that allow children to indulge their senses but also affords them an opportunity to take breaks from being surrounded by their peers when they feel the need to wind down and relax.
Inclusive play matters. Many children with autism are in therapy programs to learn social skills, balancing, how the body relates to the space around it, and how they may react to height and speed.
The Sensory Playground is an ideal place for children to put what they learn into practice. Here, children can choose the level of sensory stimulation they prefer. Noisy activities are separated from quiet activities. Quiet areas are designed to give children an opportunity to regain control.
Some activities are designed to encourage socialization. Socialization can be as simple as a seesaw ride that involves one child interacting with just one other child or it can involve larger groups. The key is that alternatives are available to accommodate all special needs and each child’s needs at any particular time.
Often, children with autism have problems with balance. At the Sensory Garden Playground, there is a wide range of balancing activities that involve various heights, widths, and different types of motion. This encourages experimentation and personal growth.
Toys and rides that involve crawling, climbing, spinning, swinging, and jumping help children experience a variety of tactile, auditory and motion-based sensory experiences.
The playground is designed with lines of sight that allow children to see what is going on near and far, thereby reducing anxiety. Any large structures are strategically placed so they don’t block the children’s panoramic view of the scene.
Designed as an inclusive place where children with a variety of needs may congregate, learn, have fun, and grow, the Sensory Garden Playground offers children with autism an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and meet with their peers.