Springtime is finally here! My five-year-old is beyond excited to finally be able to get out of the house and go to the playground.
While I love the warm weather and spending time outdoors, going to the playground with my five-year-old fills me with instant anxiety. Let me explain: I have a physical disability that makes walking very difficult. Most of the time I use a wheelchair to get around but when that’s not possible I can, very slowly and carefully, walk around using a cane. In addition, my son has Autism, which adds to the complexity of taking him to the playground as he sometimes lacks safety awareness.
Most parks in our area are like obstacle courses for people with disabilities.
Most parks in our area are like obstacle courses for people with disabilities. Grass, mulch, rocks, sand, leaves, you name it and it’s probably on the ground just waiting for me to trip on it. Due to these obstacles and the fact that most parks in our area are not wheelchair accessible, I cannot take my son to the playground by myself or even get close to the playground because there is usually some type wooden barrier around the playset to keep in the sand or wood chips. With that being said, I’m usually relegated to the park bench (if there is one) while my husband pushes my son on the swing or helps him on the monkey bars.
In addition to the physical barriers that are presented on our numerous trips to the playground, there are also the judgmental stares from other parents. While I do watch my child like a hawk because I don’t have the ability to instantly run after him, I’m not able to chase him around like some of the able-bodied parents. I need to either get my husband’s attention or yell at him (my son, not husband) while hobbling along until he stops, which he usually does. Not all of the parents are judgmental, there have been some that have been really nice and wouldn’t think twice about helping me catch my little guy if he did decide to make a run for it. All in all, I enjoy taking my son to the park even if I can’t interact with him the way I want to, it is still a great experience to watch him having fun.