First of all, you must think about what your child is like and their issues to determine what park and time would be best. What specificially are their needs? Do they crave physical input? How do they do in social situations? What about noise? What about bathroom issues? What about unorganized chaos around them? Think about these things one by one and what the ideal park setting would be for your child to allow your family to have an enjoyable time.
Second, do some research. Most areas have a park and recreation office and they are more than happy to share about the features of the park(s) they manage. They can share with you the different features the park has as well as an idea of busy hours. You might also try driving by and investigating the park by yourself. Little things that usually someone doesn't think about that might affect your child or make your park experience less pleasent are great things to check out. For instance, if your child has a senstivity to noise a good place to check out would be the bathrooms. How loud are the toilets? Is there a paper towels or a air dryer? These may seem like small things until your kid needs to go to the bathroom but won't go due to noise. It also is not good to find the bathroom so far away from the play area that your child might not want to go to the bathroom when needed.
I have gathered up a list of ideas of things to think about before deciding on a park to make the most of your trip. Ideas I never would have thought about until I had a kid with SPD.
- When are the busy hours?
- What types of kids play there (younger kids or older)?
- Is the park close to a road or a parking lot (noise and danger)?
- Does the park have bathrooms? What are they like? How far away are they?
- What types of toys does the park have to play on? Are they skill appropriate for your child's needs?
- If there is a beach or a pool is there a life guard? How easy is it to get to the water? How easy is it to get wet?
- Is there a place to rest such as a picnic table or chairs or even a place to lay a blanket out? What about shade?
- Is it a park that allows animals like dogs to roam on or off leash? Do you have to watch out for doggy doo or worry about your child's safety around animals?
- Eat lunch first.
- Bring a snack as well as a drink.
- Bring an extra set of clothes in case of getting dirty or wet
- Bring sunscreen or a hat
- Bring a timer and set a limit of when you are going to leave
- Make a few rules on behavior before you go
- Have something ready to do once you get in the car that the child will anticipate.
- Bring a game like a ball or something that go out of the car but not be too bothersome to carry around.
- Avoid things like squirt guns if your child may squirt others who are not playing.