Signs to be put up in parks to help non-verbal and autistic children

Renfrewshire councillors unanimously voted for a motion put forward by Karen Devine-Kennedy.

Signs to be put up in parks to help non-verbal and autistic children iStock

Signs to make communication easier for autistic and non-verbal children will be put up in all of Renfrewshire’s parks.

Councillors unanimously voted for a motion put forward by Karen Devine-Kennedy which asked the local authority to put up communication boards in play areas so children with neurodivergent conditions could express their emotions more easily.

The boards feature a number of images and symbols that help kids say how they are feeling, which is particularly helpful for those who are unable to speak at all.

Councillor Devine-Kennedy, who has an autistic son, said: “Communication is an essential human need. Just because a person cannot speak doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to say.

“I feel these will be very beneficial to our children. It will also encourage other children to approach them and use these boards and include them in their play.

“It will allow more interaction in playgrounds.”

The councillor was inspired by work done in Peterborough after the council there decided to install a communication board at a park to help non-verbal children.

SNP councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes recommended the wording of the motion be changed slightly to ensure it was not just targeted at autistic people but all those who are neurodivergent, which encapsulates a variety of conditions where a person’s brain functions differently.

A report will now be brought back to a future meeting of the council on when the boards will be put in place.

The agreed motion reads: “Council commends the work of Peterborough Council in helping its autistic residents and joins with it in the belief that people who are neurodivergent deserve to be understood and heard, to live in a neurodiversity friendly society where they can strive to be the best they can be without hidden or systemic barriers.

“Council resolves to install neurodivergent community approved communication boards in all our parks and instructs our officers to bring a report to the next meeting of this council.”

By local democracy reporter Steph Brawn