Planting Activities – Autism Gardening Therapy
- Gardening Therapy & Activity
Gardening therapy & activity is one of the great therapeutic activities for children with autism as it involves physical skills, fine motor skills, and creativity as well.
For example, digging, weeding, watering contributes to strengthening motor skills. Whereas seeding, cutting leaves and flowers, or plucking them with hands improves fine motor skills. Organizing the plants, beautifying the pot with paint and other decorative items. Laying coloured stones on the sand, placing mini toys, etc., enhances the creativity skill.
In addition, you can try gardening activities as group therapy. Where the child learns to cooperate with others like sharing things, waiting patiently to receive planting materials, etc.
Apart from these, gardening therapy & activity stimulates senses like vision (sight), auditory (sound), tactile (touch), olfactory (smell) with the help of plants and planting materials. Therefore it helps the kids to explore the sensory environment without being overwhelmed.
2. Visual Stimulation
In order to stimulate the visual sense, we can implement colours during the activity like adding some coloured stones, plants, planting materials like gravel, bricks, baskets, etc.
Include signs wherever possible, so that the child will learn to follow instructions.
3. Auditory Stimulation
We might wonder how planting stimulates sound sense, but in fact, it does.
Gardening or planting activity usually takes place in a calm environment where the sound of the breeze, the sound of birds, the sound of moving leaves and stems, etc. This will provide a calming or pleasing effect for the children, and in no way the children will be overwhelmed by these nature sounds. In addition, if we want to include more sounds add wind chimes as this would engage children in the activity.
4. Tactile Stimulation
Touch is an important sense to be implemented in this activity. With the use of sand, different kinds of plants, flowers, seeds, stones, and planting materials the child will get explored to different kinds of texture.
5. Olfactory Stimulation
As we know that leaves and flowers release a natural scent that is so pleasing and relaxing, children who are hyposensitive to smell can be benefitted by working with mint leaves, curry leaves, lavender, jasmine, etc.
Overall, gardening therapy is such a positive and relaxing activity that can be implemented with more fun and creativity. Just some tips to make the activity easier,
- Choose a fast-growing plant, so that the child will show more interest in this activity.
- Choose a plant based on the child’s sensory needs, for instance, for visual hyposensitive try to plant sweat pea, viola, dianthus, etc, for olfactory hyposensitive planting mock orange, mint, rose, etc will be beneficial, and so on
- Fill the watering can with a correct level before handing over it to the child.
- Make sure “taking care of the plants” is within the child’s daily schedule.
- Supervision is always mandatory.
Happy Gardening ! Enjoy gardening therapy with your little kid.