Among the many forms of recreational therapy we provide children with, horticultural therapy may catch your eye. Gardening may seem like an unconventional therapeutic technique, but there a large body of evidence to suggest that it can boost social skills, hand-eye coordination, and overall psychological wellbeing in children with autism. You might think that gardening ends in winter altogether. But nothing could be further from the truth. Here are some horticultural therapy exercises for winter you might want to try with your child.
Get Some Houseplants
Let’s start with the obvious one—just because the weather isn’t suited to growing plants outside doesn’t mean you can’t do so inside. Your home should remain relatively warm year-round—an environment that, in some ways, mirrors the tropics. With a little light from a windowsill or a grow light, you and your child may be able to cultivate some tropical houseplants or herbs.
Here are some herbs that may be able to survive on your windowsill during the harsh mid-Atlantic winters:
Winter Garden Maintenance
If you’ve been gardening for some time yourself, you know that there is plenty of garden maintenance to be done in the wintertime. Now is a great time to prune away last year’s growth and make sure the space is looking tidy. The sooner you can get a new layer of mulch down, the better.
A quick search around the web should give you plenty of ideas for winter upkeep in the garden. See if you can involve your child in any of them.
Plan, Plan, Plan!
Many gardeners spend the winter planning what they will grow when spring comes around. If your child has enjoyed the horticultural therapy exercises he tried at Connections Therapy Center, you may be able to involve him in planning your garden at home.
Their level of engagement will vary based on their age and experience. Seed selection is a common winter activity for gardeners that allows them to look forward to what the next growing season will bring. Flip through seed catalogs or scour the internet with your child to see if there’s anything they’d like to grow. If there’s a particular plant they show a stronger interest in, start there.
Another option is sketching where you’d like your garden to look like. If your child shows a serious interest in gardening, they might enjoy indicating where specific plants should go. Or they might just prefer drawing pictures of flowers and bees. After all, many of the most inspirational figures on the autism spectrum have been artists. Why not let art cross over into horticultural therapy?
With these horticultural therapy exercises at your disposal, the cold winter months will fly by.
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.