Ever wondered if there could be a relationship between gardening and autism? Meet Kim and her 7-year-old son, Arthur, who is diagnosed with autism.
Kim started experimenting with gardening and has since witnessed the astounding effect on her son as it has changed his life for the better. This motivated Kim to set up a social enterprise on a quest to reach those that could benefit from her experience.
Though the concept is still in its early stages, Kim says things have started to take shape. She has turned a small garden in Ceredigion, West Wales into a training center for the gardening course.
Kim says the garden is equipped with therapeutic space and is also packed with varied scented plants which naturally make it a wildlife sanctuary, helping one to emotionally regulate sensory interests.
Eating habits also play a crucial role in health and wellbeing, and eating natural herbs and fruits provides a lot more opportunity for every person on the spectrum. Kim says the center has designed a spot that acts as a quiet corner as well as a place of retreat in the case of sensory overload.
She says her son Arthur becomes instantly calm when he sits in the midst of a natural habitat. The garden is designed with feeders in a bin to attract birds, and many scented trees like mint are being planted to attract more wildlife.
Autistic individuals require a lot of movement; it is a crucial part of their wellbeing. A garden made just for sitting doesn’t serve this need. They need lots of opportunity for walking, which makes this center an ideal ground for autistic individuals.
Kim further adds that sometimes animals are able to connect on a deeper level and end up helping in a way that cannot be explained in words. This is one of the major reasons the center started to breed extremely friendly animals like sheep, chicken, dogs, and ducks.
Author Dr. Temple Grandin, a notable scientist for the autism cause, also speaks about the various benefits that animals provide to humans.
Kim recalls a story in which a young individual diagnosed with autism had his confidence raised after being given the responsibility of looking after his neighbour’s dog. It was his first shot at being responsible and he excelled at every bit of it, says Kim.
Often society expects individuals, autistic or not, to fit into the “normal” environment—something non-neurotypical people struggle with.
Rather than focussing on what cannot be done, it is better to hope for what can be done, says the mother.
Kim says that the things people with autism experience in their daily lives have to be understood and embraced, as well as celebrated more than ever as the world now offers opportunities like never before.