Owings Mills,MD – A new playground has been installed in the Shafer Center, a school for children on the autism spectrum aged two to 8. The playground was designed by Owings Mills-based, Sparks@Play, a company that specializes in custom playgrounds.
If researchers considerations dating back to 1975 is correct, this new type of play equipment could help children on the spectrum learn and use social skills. As Shafer’s applied behavior analysis therapist Kriston DeBoy told The Baltimore Sun:
“A lot of pieces on the playground require more then one person. It sparked social interaction.”
The playground takes a unique spin on time tested classics. Instead of the see-saw, there is the we-saw, a see-saw with four seats that have backs and a seat in the middle. Instead of the merry-go-round there is the omni-spin, and their slides have rollers.
DeBoy recalls one boy she was working with who had a hard time interacting with others, but because the we-saw needs more then one person to operate, he had to ask others to join in. Parents have seen the results as well. One mother, Stella McBride, has said her six-year-old son Michael has been asking to play more with others since the playground was installed.
These social skills the kids learn on the playground could also help them branch out more, according to DeBoy:
“If we do it now, it will already be in their repertoire. If they have a playdate they might think, ‘I know how the see-saw works, I can play with Johnny…’ They feel successful.”
These social success can blend into other aspects of life as well, such as becoming comfortable enough to ask other kids to play outside school grounds and giving them the courage to socially interact elsewhere.
The Sparks@Play website can be visited here
The original article by Danae King in the Baltimore Sun can be read here