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Horticultural Therapy: How Gardening Benefits Individuals With Autism

 Horticultural therapy uses plants and gardening activities to improve physical and mental health. It is a form of therapy used for centuries, yet it is often overlooked today. Horticultural therapy is especially beneficial for individuals with autism, providing a safe and calming environment that encourages growth and learning. 

Horticultural Therapy: How Gardening Benefits Individuals With Autism (Image Credit Pexels)

The diverse activities, from sowing seeds to nurturing plants, greatly benefit the individual, aiding in developing many essential skills.  ABA Center at https://abacentersfl.com/  says that horticultural therapy benefits those with autism.

Horticultural Therapy Offers Safe Stimulation

Gardening provides a safe environment that allows an individual with autism to explore and express themselves without judgment or fear. The repetitive motion of tending to a garden is calming and provides an ideal outlet for physical and mental stimulation. 

Gardening activities are an excellent opportunity for exploration, creativity, and reflection. With gentle guidance, these activities help the individual recognize and appreciate the changing seasons, sprouting plants, or fruits and vegetables growing in the garden.

Gardening also offers sensory stimulation. The sights and smells of the plants, dirt, and water provide calming sensations, while the textures of planting containers, soil, and tools offer tactile stimulation. Engaging in activities such as watering plants or digging dirt is therapeutic. It calms and reduces anxiety

Encourages Self-care Skills and Boosts Confidence

Gardening enables persons with autism to develop self-care skills. Through tending to their garden, they learn how to care for and nurture something else while also learning important gardening techniques such as watering, weeding, and planting.

In addition, individuals learn how to recognize and enjoy the beauty of flowers, plants, and vegetables from their efforts. The accomplishment of watching the plants grow to fruition gives them a great sense of pride. It also boosts self-esteem. Over time, they'll have the confidence to take on more challenging tasks as they learn to handle different types of plants and understand their various needs for survival. 

Progressively Increases Social Skills

Gardening encourages individuals with autism to work alongside others, expanding social skills in a safe environment. Working together on garden-related tasks builds trust and relationships with peers, teachers, and counselors. It also gives individuals the opportunity to communicate and connect with nature. 

Growing plants also teaches individuals about responsibility, perseverance, patience, and problem-solving. Ultimately, the activities encourage the individual to understand the importance of collaboration, patience, and effort. These skills are translated to everyday life and help individuals better relate and interact with the world around them.

Individuals Learn About the Food They Eat

Growing nutrient-rich foods reinforces healthy eating habits. Individuals learn to appreciate and understand where their food comes from. Consequently, it brings a sense of accomplishment and pride, making them more aware and mindful of food choices. 

In the long run, horticultural therapy offers a skill that persons living with autism incorporate into their life. It can be a source of income as they create garden-related products to sell.

Horticultural Therapy Works

Just being in a garden surrounded by nature has a calming effect. Gardening offers the time and space persons with autism need to take in their environment without feeling overwhelmed. It can also be a great way to learn about the environment and discover different types of plants, insects, animals, birds, and many other creatures. The joy and peace individuals find enable them to relax, feel at ease, and understand the world differently. 

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