Now that spring is here, it is a perfect time to get your kids outside and encourage them to learn about and interact with nature. Horticultural therapy and gardening activities are excellent therapeutic exercises for children with autism as it involves physical skills, fine motor skills, and creativity. All you need is a place where you can grow seedlings, such as a backyard, public garden, or even a spot inside with a lot of natural light. Keep reading for some fun gardening activities to try this spring.
Plant Small Plants
When a child plants a small plant, they see the result right away. On the other hand, when a child grows seeds, they must wait several weeks for a result. This concept is abstract and complex for children with autism to understand. Younger kids particularly may get impatient when they don’t see the results of their work right away. Whether you are planting flowers or a small vegetable garden, growing small plants instead of seeds will make the activity more engaging and fun.
Create a Rainbow Garden
Creating a garden full of fun and beautiful colors is much more exciting than a plain garden. Children on the autism spectrum tend to be drawn to the sensory appeal of colorful flowers. The colors will help keep your child engaged in the activity while also providing sensory input while gardening. Try to incorporate flowers and plants of all colors to design a lovely rainbow garden that your child can enjoy for years to come.
Make Weeding Fun
For some adults, weeding the garden is a mundane and tedious task. But, there are many benefits of weeding and digging in the garden for young children. For example, digging, weeding, watering contributes to strengthening gross motor skills. Additionally, the motion of pulling weeds out of the ground develops arm and hand strength and postural stability. You can make a game out of weeding to your child engaged, such as challenging them to see who can pull weeds the fastest or having them use their non-dominant hand.
Plant a Vegetable Garden
Another benefit of horticultural therapy is that you can eat the crops you grow. Let your child help decide which veggies to grow, based on their interests. Cherry tomatoes make a yummy snack and usually produce fruit earlier than bigger tomatoes. Leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach, grow quickly and can be harvested multiple times. You can plant radishes, peas, and carrots in the spring for an early harvest. Once your vegetables have grown, you and your child can cook a delicious meal, and they get firsthand experience of the food cycle when the food they grew appears on the dinner table.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.