Dad comes up with an easy way to help autistic children at parks and playgrounds
Fun for everyone.
A UK dad has come up with a simple, yet brilliant idea to make parks and playgrounds more enjoyable and fun for children who are autistic.
Dan Harris, whose 8-year-old son Josh is autistic and non-verbal, has been working with Peterborough City Council to help develop a special board with images and symbols which will allow children who are non-verbal to communicate how they are feeling and what they want to do.
Speaking to Netmums, Harris says that his desire to create the board was because he has experienced first-hand just how frustrating going to the playground could be for his son, who couldn't communicate to his parents – or others – what he wanted to try or how he was feeling.
"Communication does not always need to mean verbal communication," the dad-of-one said.
"My little boy may not necessarily verbalise what he wants, but he can use technology and pictures to communicate. Without the board, he may get upset and frustrated as he can find it difficult to communicate what he wants, but now he can simply go up to the board and point his finger to show what he wants."
"This communication board truly gives him a voice."
The communications board has so far been put up in Longthorpe Village Park, but Harris says he hopeful these – or similar boards – can be erected in parks and playgrounds across the country.
"Having a communication board available in the community won’t only make the play park more enjoyable for autistic children, but importantly, it will raise awareness of autism and get the people who use the park talking about those children who communicate in other ways than the standard verbal communication."
"It’s so important for society to accept that autistic people are different but not less."
A Peterborough City Council member, who worked alongside Harris on the project, said:
"It’s incredibly important that our local play parks are accessible to all children and I’m so pleased to see a communication board being installed at Longthorpe Village Park.
I look forward to seeing the park being enjoyed by even more children and families. We always want to make sure we involve local people in how we make our open spaces more accessible and would like to thank Dan for working with us on this."