Sunday, November 9, 2014

Reason No. 26 to hike with kids: Avoid sensory dysfunction

Allowing children to have sensory experiences outdoors is vital to their
development. Courtesy of chrisroll / FreeDigitalPhotos net
Do your children trip over their feet more than usual? Maybe are more aggressive on the playground than other kids?

They probably need to start hiking.

Playing outdoors can help resolve “sensory dysfunction” in children, according to Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook, which offers nature-centered developmental therapy to kids.

Restricting children’s movement to ensure their safety as well as depriving them of sensory experiences outdoors – such as spinning in circles and rolling down a hill – can result in behavioral problems, Hanscom has found in her practice. TimberNook’s therapy includes walking on logs, climbing trees, and playing in mud puddles, all activities that kids love to do on day hikes.

“It is time we step beyond the confining walls of buildings,” Hanscom wrote in a recent article for the Children & Nature Network, “take our therapy swings outdoors for fresh air, and use the occupation of play outdoors to enrich children’s lives.”

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.