Horticultural therapy is just one form of recreational therapy that we employ at the Connections Therapy Center. It may be fall, but there is still much to do and take in in the horticultural world. You may have wondered, though: just what is horticultural therapy? And how can it benefit my child with autism? Below, we have laid out the basics of what defines horticultural therapy, and the details of its therapeutic benefits.
What is it?
At its most basic level, horticultural therapy uses gardening to benefit physical and psychological health. A therapist trained in this discipline will guide each patient through plant-based activities that cater to their therapeutic goals.
All of this may sound strange. But anyone who has spent a significant amount of time either in a garden or the outdoors in general knows how it can benefit your overall health. Part of what makes gardening such an effective form of recreational therapy is the space of the garden itself. Being surrounded by plants, and the birds and butterflies that rely on them, provides ample sensory stimulation. Shifting the space of a child’s therapy from an indoor setting to an outdoor one is crucial to the process of healing and development.
Gardening as a form of recreational therapy has proven socialization benefits for children with autism. If you have ever gardened or otherwise enjoyed the outdoors with another person, you probably understand this. An experienced therapist will delegate horticultural tasks to patients in a way that helps to develop teamwork and cooperation. Few things are more effective at facilitating socialization than gardening.
Building Motor Skills
Gardening can be an excellent way to improve fine motor skills. Many children with autism experience difficulties developing visual-motor control and coordination. Horticultural therapy provides an opportunity for children to develop these skills, with sensory integration as an aid. Motor skills are best improved through repetition, and gardening activities such as digging, transplanting, and weeding provide the perfect opportunity to develop coordination.
Finally, horticultural therapy is an excellent way to improve your child’s sense of self-worth. One reason gardening is so effective as a form of recreational therapy is that, when all the work is done, the participants feel pride and accomplishment. This is because gardening enables you to see—literally—the fruits of their labor.
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, and Pinterest.