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Wednesday 22 Nov 2017

A Walk in the Park


Article by Stephanie Ekis, MS, CCC-SLP

Did you know that July is National Parks and Recreation Month?  Did you know that 70% of Americans have a park or recreation facility within walking distance of their homes?  This year’s theme is GET WILD!  Explore ways that you can use these facilities to explore health and wellness and nature.  NRPA’s mission is to advance parks, recreation, and environmental conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people.  This includes children with autism too!  Parks can offer a wealth of learning and social opportunities.  Make sure that your child has the tools they need so that they can communicate and participate to their fullest.

NOTE:   All of the examples below were taken from the DynaVox Maestro augmentative communication device.  If you would like to learn more about these types of devices and how they can help your child’s communication development, please visit

    1. Have a scavenger hunt.

Create a list of items (vocabulary development) that can be found in the park (e.g., bird’s nest, pinecone, etc.) and go on an adventure.  You can create a checklist for your child using pictures on a sheet of paper or on their communication device.

    1. Plan and pack a picnic lunch.

Create a grocery list (writing activity) and go shopping (community outing) for all of the things that you will need to make a lunch for a picnic in the park.  Use picture based recipes (sequencing, following directions, etc.) to create some delicious picnic treats. 

    1. Write a story.

Use a simple word processing program on the computer or communication device to create a story about the park experience.

    1. Take some photographs.

Choose a theme that your child will enjoy (e.g., animals, vehicles, etc.) take pictures of those items and create a cool scrapbook.

HINT: If you are using a DynaVox Maestro or Tango communication devices, don’t forget about the built-in camera!

    1. Go “backyard” camping.

Some children may not enjoy going to the park but you can simulate some of the same experiences right in your own home or backyard.

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