Features of Our Special Needs Playground
Our playground is extra special because we designed it just for the needs of our kiddos!
My favorite piece is a small, gray seat that looks kind of like a flower. It’s actually a little seat like a bar stool, and it spins. This gives our kids great vestibular stimulation, plus the kids have to work on their core strength while it spins! This is a “toy” that we really wanted to get for our playground.
Speaking of vestibular input we have two main structures on the playground, one shorter and one taller. The taller structure has a slide that is great for vestibular input. Of course, we have indoor slides that we use for vestibular input, but our outdoor slide is different! The incline is different, it’s taller than the slides we have in the clinics, and it has a curve to it. We also have a climbing wall. Again, we have climbing walls inside too, but this one is taller. This is great for working on climbing skills so that you can carry them over into a park setting, or out into the natural environment. Inside is great because it’s air-conditioned and controlled. But outside is the real world for our kids, and we want to make sure they can carry over the indoor skills into outside play.
Improving Climbing Skills
For even more climbing skill practice we have regular ladders, slanted ladders, and curvy ladders, in addition to the climbing wall. These will present multiple motor challenges depending on what we choose to use.
Of course, we have a pull-up bar, or monkey bar, so that we can work on our anti-gravity positions. We also have a great section that makes the kids transition between equipment. In this section, we have a couple of ladders that keep getting narrower, until they’re so narrow that the child has to transition to another piece of equipment. Between these ladders, we have ropes that the child has to be able to grab onto and balance in order to get across because there’s no other support! This is like the web wall that we have inside, but now the kids can have that same opportunity inside. Plus, the ropes outside are not quite as supportive as our web wall, so the kids have to work a little harder.
On the other side of these ladders, we have a fantastic feature that was developed specifically for physical therapy. They’re a series of balance steps. There are two steps to walk on leading to a balance beam, and then more steps of different heights that lead up to our shorter structure. This structure is small, and it’s meant for our smaller guys and our kids who can’t quite manage the motor skills for the taller structure. We have a slide on this structure too. It’s a straight slide, but it has large bumps on it. It’s a sensory slide! It’s so much fun! We also have different types of stairs on this structure, which allows us to work on stairs in the community. This smaller structure allows kids to have a playground equipment experience, but not the scarier, more gravitational one of the tall structure. This one is closer to the ground so there are no worries. This structure also has a climbing area, but it gives a little more support. On the other side of the small structure is the big slide! This is one of my favorite features! It’s a really wide slide (not tall). This is perfect for kids who don’t really have the motor skills to go down a slide, or who are frightened to slide.
We also have games! There’s a little game built into one side of the structure. The kids can twirl and spin the game around, which gives them visual input. This is also a Biba playground, which means the kids can download an app which takes them through a scenario on the playground.
The kids will never be on the playground by themselves. We will always be out there supervising. We want to make this a safe environment. We will be doing several articles and videos about what’s going on outside Cutting Edge because we have as much therapy outside as we do inside! Stay tuned because we’ll be featuring our patio, where we do activities, and our up and coming garden box, which we’ll be putting out so that the kids can work on gardening! We’ll talk about the sensory path the kids can follow using the different sensory surfaces in the playground. We’ll talk about the cement path that surrounds the playground, where we can practice long runs, bike riding, tricycling and scootering!
We’ll see you outdoors!