Structured, active play is often the best way to build the confidence of a child with Autism.

In support of World Autism Awareness Month and the ‘Go colourful for autism' initiative by Autism Spectrum Australia our team will bring you exclusive information, expert insight and a huge range of activities to enhance the learning experience of children identified with Autism.

With World Earth Day being celebrated on April 22, it is the perfect chance to create authentic learning experiences for your child.

How can a parent help a child understand their surrounds?

Such tasks as identifying flowers, types of tree or the different shrubs is a good way to engage with the trees or shrubs in the backyard, on the way to school or in the preschool play area.

The types of trees, flowers or shrubs can be drawn onto flashcards and can form part of the child’s learning of sight words. The ability to connect something tangible from the world to a new context in symbols and pictures will be a challenging but rewarding experience for the child. Once the child has become an expert in this, the flash cards can be used a sequencing tool. Allow the child to sequence the plants in the order they appear in the backyard or on the walk to school.

How can some common sensory issues faced by children with Autism be a part of World Earth Day?

Desensitising is one of key learning experiences for children with Autism.

On a similar theme to World Earth Day, it is time to get into the front or back yard! First collect various types of soil found around the home. You can add water or rocks as you like, but make sure each pile has a different texture. There will always be a few children who will resist getting their hands dirty; it is very important that a parent or educator is active in the task, getting their own hands dirty and show the children the different feeling of the textures.

As always, taking small steps is vital. Allow for children to play with the smoother soil before moving onto the harsher soil. The use of the bark from different trees will have a similar effect for many children. This is something that most children will experience in preschool; just as the child’s experience with routine, books or sharing begins before they arrive at school, so too their ability to process different sensory experiences.