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Parent Category: TX SenseAbilities (English)
Category: Spring 2016
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By Holly Cooper, Ph.D., Early Childhood Specialist, TSBVI Deafblind Outreach

Abstract: This article provides suggestions of activities parents, family members, and educators can do outdoors with young students with visual impairments or deafblindness.

Keywords: play, outdoors, child development

Expand your child’s horizons through outdoor play! Whether your child is an infant or an older child who isn’t walking yet, outdoor play is an important contributor to their physical development. Being outdoors is enjoyable, stimulating to the sensory system, and beneficial for learning. It will also give your child an opportunity to be together with friends and family members. It can help siblings and other children find interesting ways to play with a child with disabilities who may be shielded from many of the typical experiences of childhood.

Many children don’t have much outdoor play time for a variety of reasons. In some cases, it may be the extremes of weather. In Texas it’s often too hot in the summer to be outdoors after 11 in the morning. In some cases, there may be allergens such as mold or pollen, or there may be a high ultraviolet light risk. Maybe mosquitos, chiggers, or scorpions are a problem. Maybe harsh vegetation like stickers, cactus, or poison ivy makes the outdoors difficult. In cities, finding safe and comfortable places to play outside can be equally challenging. In spite of this, being outdoors is an important part of the human experience and is important for child development.

The outdoors is an entirely different sensory experience than being inside. It is a rich and vibrant setting for a blind, visually impaired or deafblind child. The light is brighter, the temperatures are hotter or colder, the breeze or wind blows, sounds are different and more varied, and smells are entirely different. Your child will benefit from outdoor play regardless of their disability or health conditions. Here are some ideas for making outdoor play safe, enjoyable, and a learning experience.

Make yourself comfortable

Fun things to do

Special ideas for extra budgets

Webcams and video cameras with audio to watch a birdfeeder, nest or other wildlife
http://www.amazon.com/Hawk-Eye-Nature-Cam-Wireless/dp/B006JECZ6I

Tuned windchimes
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_nr_n_1?fst=as%3Aoff&rh=n%3A553806%2Ck%3Atuned+wind+chime&keywords=tuned+wind+chime&ie=UTF8&qid=1456251343&rnid=2941120011

Swing sets, modified for babies or individuals who need extra support
https://store.schoolspecialty.com/OA_HTML/ibeCCtpItmDspRte.jsp?minisite=10206&item=86809&category1=Special+Needs&category2=Active+Play

Plastic bubbles
http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A165793011%2Ck%3Aplastic%20bubbles