COVID-19 poses significant challenges to parents. This is especially true if your child has ASD. It may still be difficult for them to receive the therapy they need to develop and thrive. Thankfully, parents can provide them with some of their therapeutic needs right at home. It may be the middle of winter, but now’s the perfect time to begin a horticultural therapy exercise that’s perfect for kids: seed starting.
What You’ll Need
Gardening enthusiasts often purchase tons of equipment and sink loads of money into their seed starting set-ups. But the truth is that you don’t need expensive grow lights or heating pads to get started with seed starting. Here are some things you will need:
Seeds. Obviously, you can’t start seeds without seeds! Seed selection is a favorite wintertime activity for gardeners. Seeds might not hit store shelves until March, but you can still order them cheaply online. Buying them on the internet will give you a greater selection of rare and exciting seeds to grow. Pick some your child has a genuine interest in growing!
Containers. Seed starting trays are ubiquitous in big box hardware stores. They are affordable, too. But the truth is you don’t have to spend a penny. See if there’s anything around the house you can repurpose into seed starting containers. Egg cartons are a perennial favorite. Food-grade plastic bottles are another good choice for larger plants. You could even use newspaper.
Soil. Finally, you will need soil. People have had luck with regular old potting mix, but seed starting mix will be your best bet. You should be able to purchase this at your local lawn and garden store any time of year.
Seed Starting Basics
Once you’ve gathered these basic materials, horticultural therapy can begin in earnest. The seed packets you purchased should provide you with the fundamental instruction you need. It should include the depth at which you should sow the seed, and how far apart from one another they should be. If not, you can easily find this info online!
Pay close attention to the plant’s estimated germination time and temperature preferences! In just a few weeks, we should be able to start some cold-weather crops like kale or swiss chard. Some slow starters might take over a month to poke up through the soil. You should start their seeds early, but not so early they outgrow their containers before it’s warm enough outside for them to survive.
Place the containers on a sunny windowsill and teach your child to water them. Morning sun is best. Remember: in general, people tend to over water rather than under water their plants. You want the soil to be moist, but not wet.
Gardening has proven therapeutic benefits. In addition to refining your child’s motor skills, simple horticultural therapy activities such as seed starting can have a remarkable benefit on their psychological wellbeing. It may even turn into a healthy, lifelong hobby!
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.