Gardening Therapy For Autism

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Amid a global pandemic, most people find themselves at home most of the time. One of the bright sides of it is the fact that Americans are investing more time into their gardens.

Urban farming is growing exponentially as the pandemic continues. Now, people want to be involved in the growing process of their vegetables to ensure their nature and purity. Besides the nutritional benefits, urban farming has been found incredible for ASD children.

Gardening Improves Gross and Fine Motor Skills

Gardening allows children to learn where the food comes from, awakening interest for new tastes and textures. In addition, activities in the garden can address both gross and fine motor skills. 

  1. The Wheelbarrow – moving dirt, rocks, or debris counts as heavy work and can build muscles in both arms and legs.
  2. Digging – build endurance and hand dexterity; can also reduce tactile defensiveness.
  3. Pulling Weeds – develops arm and hand strength and postural stability.
  4. Raking –  good for bilateral coordination.
  5. Watering with a watering can – good for bilateral coordination if using two hands; strengthens arms.
  6. Planting Seeds – fine motor coordination.

Gardening Enhances Learning

Gardening can now become a part of your home school curricula. There are many topics that children can learn from it:

  • Seeds and their parts.
  • Plant growth.
  • Difference between fruits, veggies, herbs, and flowers.
  • Health benefits of plants.
  • Nutritional benefits of fruits and veggies.
  • Tasting.
  • Cooking with your harvest.

Another great way to incentivize learning is to develop learning activities around it. Children can draw the plants they see, categorize fruits and veggies, and even help during the cooking process.

Benefits of Gardening For ASD Children

Besides being a great activity for motor skills and learning, gardening has been found to have incredible therapeutic benefits for autistic children:

  • It is a calm, quiet activity in a natural environment.
  • It provides an opportunity to follow instructions.
  • It teaches cooperation and how to work with others.
  • It gives numerous sensory experiences and input.
  • It teaches responsibility and leadership. A garden needs tending every day.
  • It is a fully inclusive activity because there is something to do for everyone and a garden is a team effort.
  • It provides an opportunity to socialize.
  • Eating what you grow can encourage individuals to try new foods. 
  • You can learn a variety of ways to prepare fruits and vegetables.
  • You can learn how to preserve food through canning, freezing, drying, and dehydration.
  • Flowers can be dried and used for art projects.

Remember, you dont need to own an acre to start your garden. Some veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes, and most herbs can be grown in pots. The point is to involve your child in the process of growing and harvesting your food.

Have you tried gardening at home? Share your experience!

Sources:

https://www.legacyfarmsvirginia.org/seedsofhope/2015/10/14/gardening-and-autism-a-match-made-in-heaven

https://autismawarenesscentre.com/how-does-your-garden-grow-mental-health-wellness-skills-development-through-gardening/

https://www.rapidtransition.org/stories/how-does-your-city-grow-lockdown-illuminates-urban-farming-and-gardenings-potential/