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  • Jenna Sherman

Nature-Based Activities for Children with Autism

Updated: May 9, 2021

The natural world is full of wonderful experiences for children with autism, from the sensory-stimulating to the educational. If you’re a parent searching for ways to get your child outdoors, use this resource guide to get ideas for fun outdoor activities and learn how to keep your child safe in the great outdoors.

Autism Vision of Colorado is dedicated to educating the community about autism and supporting and empowering individuals on the spectrum. Get involved and support us today!

How to create an autism-friendly backyard

Children with autism have unique sensory and safety needs. Use these resources to turn your backyard into an outdoor wonderland for your child.

  • Before venturing outdoors, childproof your yard by installing a fence with a self-latching gate.

  • Parents should also remove any toxic plants and chemicals from the backyard.

  • Once the backyard is safe, build an autism-friendly playground for your child.

  • Don’t forget the swing! Adaptive swings let children with special needs enjoy this calming activity.

Nature-based outdoor activities for kids

From sensory experiences to educational activities, the outdoors is full of excitement and opportunity for your child. These nature-based activities are great for kids of all ages and ability levels.

  • Aquatic activities can improve your child’s physiological and psychological functioning

  • Take advantage of stormy weather to learn about meteorology. In addition to teaching math and science, storm spotting instills a respect of nature.

  • No storms? No problem. Cloud watching is a relaxing activity for bonding with your child.

  • For a soothing sensory experience, buy or build your child a sand and water table.

  • Need more activity inspiration? These learning activities are sure to capture your child’s imagination.

Ideas for bringing nature indoors

Nature-based learning doesn’t have to stop when a rainy day rolls around. With these creative activities, your child can bring the natural world indoors.

  • Plant a windowsill garden with easy-to-grow herbs, flowers, and vegetables.

  • Create a sensory bin with pinecones, acorns, dried flowers, and other materials sourced from the natural world.

  • Use leaves, sticks, and other natural materials for nature-based arts and crafts.

  • Turn on nature sounds while you play to create a calming ambiance for your child.

There’s no limit to what your child can do in the great outdoors when under your guidance. However, before planning outdoor activities with your child, make sure you’ve made your backyard a safe place for children with autism. With an outdoor space that’s safe for play, your child can explore, create, and learn to their heart’s content.

Jenna Sherman is a member of Parent Leaders. Visit their website at


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