Celebrating Sensory Awareness Month

National Sensory Awareness Month | October 2015

October is National Sensory Awareness Month… a time for us to help spread awareness of sensory processing disorder (SPD). SPD, which affects both children and adults, is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. The causes of SPD are among the subjects that researchers at the SPD Foundation have been studying, and treatment often includes natural setting therapy like at home, school or the playground.

The benefits of sensory-stimulating playground activities—those that engage all their senses—affect children of all abilities. The more they engage all of their senses, the better they make sense of the world around them and their relationship to it. See our infographic below of five ways that children benefit from sensory play.

5 Key Benefits of Sensory Play | Landscape Structures Inc.

Planning for inclusion on World Autism Awareness Day

Today marks the eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day. This day brings autism organizations around the world together to help raise awareness about the disorder affecting nearly 1 in 68 children. Because of these stats and the fact that there are one in seven children in the U.S. living with a disability, we took a close look at public playground requirements for children with disabilities by conducting a survey of nearly 900 parents of children 12-years-old and younger.

Landscape Structures Inclusive Play survey

More than half (57 percent) of all parents asked about playground requirements for children with disabilities, mistakenly believe playgrounds are required to have elements designed for children with autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, and visual and hearing impairments. That means that people who think they’re designing an inclusive playground based upon ADA standards are really only designing to the minimum requirements and could be missing a huge need in their community.

Over the past few years, we’ve learned about a desire to include sensory play experiences and multigenerational opportunities for social interaction. Planners also want to make sure the community or school playground offers enough challenge for children who are typically developing as well so that there are opportunities for healthy interaction among children of all abilities. Our survey echoed that idea… nearly 75 percent of parents believe it is important that their children have an opportunity to play with a variety of children, including those with disabilities.

The Oodle® Swing encourages healthy interaction among children of all abilities.

Overall, when planning an inclusive playground, inclusion should be used as a guiding principal—a checkpoint that you continue to question, “How are we fulfilling this need?” Learn more about inclusive play at playlsi.com, and see more results from our Inclusive Play survey.

The five key benefits of sensory play

Did you know that October is Sensory Awareness Month? It is, and on this last day of the month, we wanted to share the benefits that children of all abilities get from sensory play. Sensory play involves activities that help to stimulate and develop behaviors based on what a child sees, hears, touches, tastes and smells. It also involves how they move and position their bodies in space. The more they engage all seven senses, the better they make sense of the world around them and their relationship to it.

See below for our infographic of the five ways that children benefit from sensory play, and see a larger version at playlsi.com.

5 Key Benefits of Sensory Play | Landscape Structures Inc.

Stimulate your senses on the playground with Pulse™

Our inclusive playgrounds bring children and families of all abilities together for play. In addition to providing access to the playground, we are focused on offering sensory play experiences. That’s why we introduced Pulse™, a multisensory way to add lights, sounds, touch and more movement to the playground.

Pulse, with its three interactive games, brings children of all abilities together for visual, auditory and tactile stimulation. The games are easy to understand, encourage social interaction, teach the value of sportsmanship, and help develop physical coordination and spatial awareness.

Pulse Tennis

Pulse Tennis

Pulse Tennis is great for two to eight players ages 5 to 12. With flashing lights and realistic tennis sounds, kids will be encouraged to run, lunge and stretch to send the light back to their opponent.

Pulse Table Tennis

Pulse Table Tennis

Pulse Table Tennis welcomes two to four players ages 2 to 12. Kids develop hand-eye coordination and concentration as they watch for the light to bounce back to them. Table tennis, installed at a wheelchair-accessible height, is great for therapeutic settings.

Pulse Tempo

Pulse Tempo

Pulse Tempo rewards kids for their movement with five unique sound and light shows. Designed for up to six players ages 2 to 12, Pulse Tempo helps advance kids’ motor skills.

Watch Pulse in action below, then go to playlsi.com to hear what kids have to say about the new multisensory play experience.

Collaborating to bring awareness to Sensory Processing Disorder

We recently began collaborating with the Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Foundation and its sister organization, the STAR (Sensory Therapies and Research) Center, to help bring more awareness to the disorder, and help share the important work that the Foundation does to treat adults and children affected by SPD. Our collaboration has led to the creation of a sensory playground at STAR Center, which is helping move SPD therapy outdoors.

Playgrounds are an important part of children’s lives. They provide opportunities to play, learn and socialize. Because of this, the inclusive playground at STAR Center will be used as a therapy tool and this “natural” setting will be incorporated into children’s daily lives.

The STAR Center also focuses on parent education to help them understand SPD and intervention principles. Parents are coached to prepare for their child’s sensory needs, and families receive help to facilitate a “sensory lifestyle” for the whole family.

We’re excited about this new collaboration with the SPD Foundation and STAR Center, and look forward to learning more about how therapy in natural settings—especially playgrounds—helps treat children touched by the disorder.

Tradition Meets Future

Aside

The region two winner of the Together We Play™ essay contest comes from South Elgin, Ill. The FUNdation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, works to improve the quality of life for the residents of the Village of South Elgin through the development, implementation, and funding of recreation, education, and conservation programs, services and facilities. Read the excerpt below to learn more about their need for inclusive playgrounds.

“Imagine an adolescent boy and Molded Bucket Seatfather visiting a park together. Because of his special needs, the boy is unable to use the swings appropriate for his age, so they try to fit him into a toddler bucket swing. Now imagine the terror of the child and the anxiety of the father when the child becomes stuck in the swing requiring responders to cut him out. Unfortunately, this scene was not imagined. It recently happened at a park in the Village of South Elgin.

The FUNdation embraces the Village motto “Where Tradition Meets the Future” by employing our traditional values while addressing the future needs for our community. We envision the creation of a welcoming park that is inclusive of age, sensory and developmentally appropriate playground equipment and free of barriers for visitors with physical challenges.”

Celebrating their grand prize

Wheaton Park District will celebrate their grand prize winning from the Together We Play™ essay contest with an event open to the community at 6 p.m. on Oct. 19. Local government officials, Shane’s Inspiration and Landscape Structures representatives will be present. The location of the event is at Wheaton Village Hall in the Gamon Room, 303 W. Wesley Street. Wheaton Park District representatives will be speaking about their winning essay and new playground. There will also be a $150,000 check presentation from Shane’s Inspiration and Landscape Structures to the Wheaton Park District.

Read more about the Sensory Garden Playground Initiative and the project kick-off celebration at the Daily Herald.