To celebrate World Autism Awareness Week, we’re looking back at some of our most favourite autism-focused playground developments. From rustic trim trails to vibrant roadways, the inclusion of a tailor-made outdoor play space can help children (and adults) on the autism spectrum develop and flourish.
As well as the typical benefits of physical play, such as increased fitness, children on the autism spectrum can also learn the importance and develop other soft skills such as turn-taking, socialising and building relationships.
Here at Creative Play we understand that autism is a spectrum condition and that every individual is affected in a different way. With many individuals on the spectrum also having learning difficulties, mental health issues or other conditions (or a combination of all three) we pride ourselves on tackling each individual playground development as a unique project with its own bespoke needs and requirements.
With the correct design, we truly believe that an outdoor play space can help children on the autistic spectrum to better understand the world around them, boost their confidence levels and most of all HAVE FUN!
Need some inspiration for your autism-tailored playground? Check out five of our favourites below
Rustic Trim Trail, Activity Centre & Imaginative Play Pieces
Hinderton School is a SEN primary school that specialises in children on the Autistic spectrum and with social communication difficulties. The brief given was to remove an area of tired surfacing as well as an old climbing frame and replace with like-for-like items. They also wanted to include an additional Trim Trail circuit and role play area.
From the get go, it was acknowledged that there was two different areas to be re-developed; KS1 and KS2. Within the KS1 area we removed the existing Timber Climbing frame and surfacing and replaced them with our Dart Activity Centre and Rubber Mulch Safety Surfacing. Along with this we added our vibrant Land Ranger and Perspex Board to encourage role play and imaginative play.
For the KS2 area we created a challenging Trim Trail circuit, along with Rubber Mulch Safety Surfacing to ensure the whole play space met all BSEN 1176 and 1177 safety standards and allowed for all-weather use. Trim Trail items such as our Crawling Net and Tyre Crossing were incorporated to ensure balance, co-ordination and climbing skills were targeted while still focusing on more traditional physical play aspects.
HILL HOUSE SCHOOL
Inclusive Roadway-themed Safety Surfacing, Timber Swings and Fitness Stations
Hill House School were looking to replace their existing equipment with something to promote outdoor fitness for the pupils. They also wanted to incorporate a bright and exciting roadway to really add the wow factor and stimulate their SEN students.
We installed a number of swings, including our round Basket Swing, which we felt were perfect for Hill House. They are great for children with special needs or who need that little bit more assistance; with the size & design allowing them to be accompanied during play if necessary and the materials being able to withstand even the most enthusiastic play .
To ensure all of the needs of Hill House were met, we worked with an external supplier who provided specialised fitness equipment and we decided to make it a real feature of the playground and highlight the area with our colourful and hardwearing Wetpour Safety Surfacing.
As well as being able to integrate intricate designs into the surfacing, Wetpour provides an all-weather playground surface that is suitable for wheelchair and less mobile users.
We decided to incorporate a large roadway design into the Wetpour safety surfacing at Hill House, and provide design details such as stop signs, zebra crossings, roundabout signs and parking bays to provide hours of fun for the children whilst also teaching the importance of road safety.
KESTREL HOUSE SCHOOL
Trim Trail Stations with Vibrant Safety Surfacing
Creative Play were approached by Kestrel House School to provide an exciting & colourful design proposal to include play equipment which allows different outdoor activities for the children. We installed a number of trim trail items to create separate play stations, including a quiet early years area with Teepee’s and seating.
The key design feature of the installation was the creativity used in our Wetpour Safety Surfacing. Each play station is within its own coloured circle which provides the wow factor and allows safe use, all year round! Our Wetpour Surfacing is the ideal solution when looking to create individual inlaid designs, whether it be school logos or bright & colourful shapes.
KINGSLEY SPECIAL ACADEMY
Challenging Tower System and Classic Basket Swing
We worked with Kingsley Special Academy to really add the wow factor to their existing grass playing field. The surrounding area consisted of a natural environment, so we decided that a large fort Tower System in a more rustic style would be ideal – enter our Fort Belknap!
With a wide range of play features such as a tubular slide, climbing wall, net climb and firefighters’ pole it is the perfect play piece to keep all students active at break times and allows multiple children to use it at any one time.
Alongside our Fort Belknap Tower System we incorporated a Basket Swing so less mobile students could still access and enjoy the new updated playground.
We installed our blue Wetpour Safety Surfacing underneath the Tower and Swing, resulting in a vibrant and exciting focal point as well as ensuring the playground meets British and European safety standards.
WEST KIRBY RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL
Jungle Climber, Timber Swings, Spinners, Trim Trail Circuit and Quiet Area
West Kirby Residential School approached Creative Play as they were considering updating the existing outdoor play area. The school were looking to replace existing old metal climbing equipment, swings and replace existing safety surfacing. After meeting with the school to acquire a better understanding of what was required, they decided on climbing equipment which was to be challenging and aimed at improving physical activity. A quiet shaded area and new swings were also to be incorporated into the proposal.
As soon as we were handed the brief for West Kirby Residential School there were lots of ideas. As this was a residential school for pupils with special needs aged 8-18, we instantly thought of a Trim Trail area and a Jungle Climber. The school decided on many popular Challenger Trim Trail items including the Overhead Ladder, Tyre Crossing, Balance Beam and Chin Up Bars. Furthermore the school chose our popular Jungle Climber Midi as this provides a great way to climb around and improve physical strength! Swings were also added to the playground design, both a Basket Swing and Double Swing. As the school wanted to replace their existing surfacing this provided a great opportunity to really make the playground stand out! We used both Blue and Red Wetpour safety surfacing to allow all weather use and to ensure the playground met BSEN 1177 safety standards. This allowed us to highlight the individual play zones within the design and provides a real wow factor.
Want to learn more about World Autism Awareness Week? The National Autistic Society’s website is packed full of information and resources – click here to find out more