BRITISH COLUMBIA- Natasha Etherington is author of Gardening for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Special Educational Needs , a book for teachers, school counselors, parents and support members working with children on the autism spectrum. The book has become a valuable part of their therapy work. Gardening is very hands on experience and therefore motivational for children with special needs.
An additional bonus to gardening (horticultural) therapy is that of parents working with their children, growing memories for the future. Many parents had not considered gardening with their child, yet the learning experience and benefits are numerous. Digging allows children to play in the soil and use their gross motor skills as well as improving hand dexterity and reducing tension in the muscles.
Planting a garden with a child on the autism spectrum allows the child to learn how to cooperate with family and friends as well as listening and following directions. Speech therapy also is present in that the child is provided with the opportunity to communicate with their planting partner.
Natasha offers great insight into the benefits of Horticultural Therapy. She suggests that if you do not have this type of therapy available in your area then reading Gardening for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Special Education Needs will give you the information needed to begin a program of your own. Her book contains chapters specifically designed for Autism Spectrum Disorder, anxiety, Anger and depression as well as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Natasha feels that this type of therapy is something that is not often offered in a classroom setting and is something parents can get together and do with their children.
The original article on The Kids Companions website can be found here