The Back Porch Project

When Elizabeth was a young toddler, we could take her outside to play. We could go into the yard and let her explore and she was happy. But as she got older (around the time that signs of autism showed up), we had to stop because she would scream and/or try to leave. For awhile, we couldn’t go anywhere with her because the screaming was constant but eventually, we were able to start taking her to playgrounds. They have to be enclosed otherwise the same thing still happens – she leaves. For months now, we have been driving almost an hour from our house to take her to a park that is big, has swings, and is completely gated. Obviously, we don’t go there every day even when the weather is nice, so most days, she stays inside. WE stay inside.

It has broken my heart that we’ve had to keep her inside but we haven’t had another option. We couldn’t put her in the stroller and go for a walk around the neighborhood because she protests riding in it. She’d climb out of a wagon and she won’t hold my hand to safely walk. Heck, I have to carry her to the van when we go somewhere.

A few weeks ago, Stephen and I were talking about the possibility of making the back porch a safe place for her to play. However, there wasn’t any shade, so it was impractical during the summer months, and she doesn’t understand that you can’t go outside when it’s raining. I knew that there would have to be a covering on the back porch if she were to be out there.

I suggested we make some cheap covering – just throw something up there – but Stephen sensibly (and expensively) decided on making something of quality. He and Joshua spent Monday and Tuesday working on it.

They did such an awesome job!

They didn’t have quite enough time to finish the roof and attach the baby gates before bed on Tuesday night but they did those yesterday; Joshua did the work while Stephen (and his recovering hand) supervised.

Once it was completely done, we used a blower to clear off the pollen that had arrived in Georgia on Wednesday. Then we brought some outside toys up from the shed. Finally, we let the girls come out to play.

Initially, Elizabeth was very happy and content to play with the toys and interact with us. Isabella was super happy to have the outdoor space!

But it didn’t take long before Elizabeth started exploring the gates, trying to climb, and requesting to get out the door leading down to the yard.

She screamed a few times when encouraged not to climb, and she even picked up the toy wagon and threw it at me (which earned a timeout in her crib). At this point, I began worrying that this wasn’t going to work. Was all their effort was going to be wasted? Were we not going to be able to use the back porch after all?

I asked her if she wanted her tablet, figuring that we’d go inside. She said no but then a few minutes later she asked for it herself. I went and got it and then she happily played outside for a few hours!

She moved all around the deck, watching her shows, playing with toys, eating a snack. It’s as if the space was too distracting or overwhelming and she needed a focal point.

In order to come inside, I had to offer a fun transitional activity so I ran a bath and she was fine. 🙂

I am so thankful for Stephen and Joshua’s hard work. ❤️

3 thoughts on “The Back Porch Project

  1. That is AMAZING hard work and I’m so glad that if she struggles it is in the comfort of your own home. I can’t imagine the amount of patience she is testing you with. Routine is so important and I hope in time consistent reminders of her boundaries help her understand her limitations. May you feel grace during this period and as another commenter shared, you know best.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. ❤ wow, thanks so much, Valerie! I alway hope I can encourage others and I don't have experience I can share, but when I read your posts I really want to leave something positve and encouraging. Thanks for letting me know 🙂


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