Young children learn by using all of their senses, so your playground should offer as many experiences as possible. For kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder, this need for balance can be extreme. The more sensory experiences, the more is learned and gained during development. The playground should include the following sensory areas:
Color and Varying Elevations: Adults tend to look at the functional aspect of playgrounds that includes the natural coloration and a traditional theme. Ofttimes, the natural looking playground is aesthetic for the adult rather than the child. It’s rare that the typical child-oriented environment consists of typical natural coloration, i.e. beige, green, brown. More likely, a playground with a variety of shapes, colors, and forms will offer the most stimulation and improve spatial perception.
The vestibular system consists of small, liquid-filled tubes in the inner ear and is important in maintaining a child’s sense of balance. The movement of liquid through these canals produces stimulation of the nervous system. Sensory experiences change every time the head moves in a different direction or at a different speed; this explains children’s great enjoyment of whirling, spinning, swing, or being tossed in the air. During the first years, children’s vestibular systems are very receptive to even small amount s of stimulation, and slight variations in speed and direction have a substantial effect on balance. The vestibular system works with the senses of touch and vision as well as sensations from the joints and muscles to help children orient themselves in space. When children go down a slide, for example, they both feel and see themselves moving downward through space. by about the age of 8, the sensory-motor development of children is well established.