For some children, the sights and sounds of a playground can be overwhelming, particularly for those with sensory processing disorders such as Autism. Little Tikes Commercial, in collaboration with Unlimited Play, created Quiet Grove – a cosy retreat where children can refocus and relax. Exclusively Distributed by Austek Play across Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, the innovative and inclusive design of the Quiet Grove offers a solution to meltdowns/overstimulation, without the child/carer having to leave the playground.
The Quiet Grove was designed to reduce the sights, sounds, and even smells that can become overwhelming to create a calming space. The Quiet Grove combines soothing benefits of nature with sensory and fidget activities. This alleviates children’s stress and allows them to regain control and focus.
Sometimes typical calming activities agitate rather than soothe children with Sensory Processing Disorders. The Quiet Grove incorporates specifically designed repetitive diversions to help balance the mind and body. The activities don’t take much thought but offer movement which they can concentrate on. The concentration of ‘something but nothing’ allows the child to regroup
Children can also engage in the five calming sensory activities included to reduce stress and anxiety, which includes a light switch, straight path, push wall, wavy path and fidget spinner that allows children to click, push, spin and move objects; all helping them to calm down. Soothing colours and natural elements add to the peaceful aesthetic of the Quiet grove.
The Quiet Grove measures 5m by 5m and can also easily be installed into any existing playground.
When designing inclusive playgrounds, ‘invisible disabilities’ such as Autism or any sensory processing disorders often get overlooked. These children and their parents/guardians often need a dedicated place to regain focus and control. It’s important to locate the Quiet Grove as far away from the rest of the play equipment as possible and out of the main traffic areas to ensure a calming environment.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC), an estimated 164,000 Australians had autism in 2015 (ABS 2016). This represented an overall prevalence rate of 0.7 percent, or about 1 in 150 people. The number of people with autism in Australia has increased considerably in recent years, up from an estimated 64,400 people in 2009 (ABS 2014), making Autism the second most common primary disability in Australia.