Gardening Fun with ASD Kids

When Jane & I were looking for a house, Jane (who directed the search from Hampshire while I went out and about in Aberdeenshire) laid down one condition – that it had a garden. I grew up in a block of flats, so never had a garden. At the time of house hunting, I wasn’t too bothered about a garden, but since we moved to our current house, I’m glad Jane specified a garden. Over the years we’ve made an attempt at growing our own veg, and have had decent crops of carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, leeks, peas & runner beans. Its a pleasure to be able to get outside in the summer and enjoy the garden.

Since Matthew & Daniel came along, the garden has almost been like a second home to them. When the weather is even semi-decent, they want to be outdoors. Out front garden is a decent size, and although it isn’t fenced in, they often enjoy a healthy run about, getting them vital exercise and fresh air without being any distance from the house. Occasionally they’ll ask if the tent can be put up in the garden – as its a pop-up tent, its not much trouble to put it up and to put it away again. The bar-be-que will also be wheeled out in the summer of course. If it means more time out of doors, then we do it.

But its the back garden when the boys have most fun. We still attempted to grow some of our own veg, and went at got some raised beds for growing more carrots and potatoes. Jane gave me a new greenhouse for my birthday (it arrived early, but she thought it would make sense to put it together now rather than wait for another six weeks) and the last 3 weekends has been spent with the boys putting it together. They’re already planning what we will grow, with everything from tomatoes to pumpkins to peppers being mentioned! They are looking forward to getting the plants in and watching them grow – and most importantly of all, eating the produce.

But what they enjoy most is getting their hands dirty – literally. They love the sensation of feeling the soil with their fingers, and between their toes – they much prefer going barefoot in the garden. There is so many things they can touch, so many textures for them to explore. The simple task of digging a hole can give them so much pleasure. In the next few weeks, we’ll get the compost, seeds and plants we need to get the garden going for the summer, I know the boys will love helping as it will keep them outdoors. Longer evenings as the summer progresses will get us outdoors before bedtime, instead of sitting indoors watching the television.

The garden is a brilliant source of therapy for an autistic child, and Matthew & Daniel make full use of it. Hopefully we’ll get something out of it all at the end of the summer that’ll taste good off the dinner plate!


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