Our Garden, Our Sanctuary

By | October 28, 2013

When we moved into our house 10 years ago, the back garden was very sedate, very appropriate for the previous owners. It was half-paved (not ideal for toddlers) and had a low feature wall with a herb garden. We very quickly set about laying turf, replacing the fence that wouldn’t withstand anymore wind and the back gate that currently shut with the aid of string, making it more family-friendly and, above all, safe.

Over the years and two autism diagnoses later, the back garden is a sanctuary for us all, a place for Hubbie and I to sit at the end of the day and somewhere for T and D to play and let off energy.

It’s especially important for T as the trampoline is one of his calming mechanisms when he’s feeling anxious/worried:

T and D also find it challenging being around strangers and in unfamiliar places so a busy park would not be the best place for them, the back garden is their area, somewhere to bounce, to splash in the pool and to play hide and seek.

Tots 100 and Activity Toys Direct have teamed up with a great competition – – http://www.tots100.co.uk/2013/10/06/become-a-play-ambassador-with-activity-toys-direct/and below is D’s interpretation of her ideal garden:

Our Garden, Our Sanctuary

Firstly, it’s sunny in D’s garden and fenced off. One of our cats is on the fence, wondering whether to chase a bird (highly unlikely, they’re getting a bit elderly now).

There’s a swing and a slide, a pond, lots of fragrant bushes (we have quite a few butterfly-friendly buddleia bushes) and a flamingo! Bunny, her faithful cuddly companion, is also there.

It’s very bright, colourful, positive and all D’s own work. I’m not sure how big a flamingo she’s envisaging but she loves how they stand on one leg and, importantly for D, they’re pink.

Activity Toys Direct have some great toys on their website, I’ve enjoyed perusing and imagining how we’d spend £750, here would be my ideas for enhancing the play in our garden:

First up, would be this:

A trampoline set into the ground, ideal from a safety viewpoint and it would mean that any footballs T was bouncing were less likely to go over the fence. I was really surprised as the price of this as I’ve seen similar for much, much more. Another advantage is that our neighbours wouldn’t be able to see him, they’re not particularly autism-friendly.

Our next choice would be:

A bike/trike which D would be able to ride. She doesn’t have the co-ordination for a traditional two-wheeled bike and, again, I’ve seen special needs trikes for a lot more than this. It also looks very funky and the low height means that she can get on and off easily and there isn’t far to fall.

Next up is something that looks ideal from both a play and exercise element:

A Spiro Hop, ideal for encouraging play and exercise. Very much like a see-saw but it can rotate! Very good I imagine for building up leg and trunk muscles, it looks a lot of fun too.

And lastly:

A doodle desk, both T and D really enjoy using pens and paper. D calms herself by drawing and T by writing stats, he’s also recently started getting into cartooning. This desk looks very sturdy, but light enough to be moved from lounge to garden when the weather is nice enough for some outside art!

We came in a little bit over the total so would be raiding this for the surplus if we were lucky enough to win (yes, please!).

Our Garden, Our Sanctuary

This blog post is an entry into the Tots100/Activity Toys Direct garden makeover competition.

Thanks for reading Jx

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1 Comment

Kerrie McGiveron on 28th October 2013 at 9:05 pm.

Love your choices – especially the flip desk – and great idea about raiding the piggy bank x


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