Gardening and Autism

With the 2017 National Garden Scheme ‘Grants for Gardening’ the National Autistic Society helped 15 of its local branches to start a gardening project.

Over 550 individuals directly benefited from taking part in one of the gardening projects. Some of the branches created gardens, others took the opportunity to visit gardens in their local area, something that many of the branch members had never done before.

Here are some of the projects:

Redruth and District Branch

Redruth organised for members of their adults group to go on garden visits. Many of the young adults in the group come from disadvantaged backgrounds and never had the opportunity to visit gardens like these. The group found that walking around and seeing the different types of plants was a very calming activity in itself, helping to reduce anxiety.

The Redruth and District group at a garden
The Redruth and District group on one of their garden visits

 

North Northumberland Branch

The Northumberland Branch are creating a unique sensory garden offering a safe space for the branch and families to hold regular sessions, as well as to act as a flagship sensory garden in the area.

  • The North Northumberland branch are working with Lord and Lady Howick, who have generously offered space at Howick Hall, to create a sensory garden.
  • The Hall is an existing garden open to the public and was mentioned in BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine as one of the UK’s top five coastal gardens.
  • Natasha, A professional gardener, with the consultation and support of the group, will design a self-contained space concentrating on a range of sensory experiences.

The garden first opens on Sunday 10th June, 2018.

The North Northumberland Branch space at Howick Hall
The North Northumberland Branch space at Howick Hall

 

Denbighshire and Conwy Branch

Created a community garden for the whole branch with six individual allotments to be looked after by individual families.

The branch have continuously told the National Autistic Society what a positive community experience their allotments project has been, the young people of the branch have been given a lot of ownership which has been great for their confidence. Many of the benefits they’ve noticed are calming anxieties, reducing phobias and educating the branch members about food.

They hope to continue the allotments for many years to come.

The transformation to the Denbighshire and Conwy community garden
The transformation to the Denbighshire and Conwy community garden

 

West Norfolk

Created a communal allotment with a sensory garden area for branch members of all ages.

Three main benefits and uses of the space for the branch members has been as:

  • A social space where those in the branch can get together and socialise, and develop and encourage social skills
  • A space to teach branch members about where food comes from
  • A space to simply relax and ease anxiety in a calm peaceful environment with no pressure to interact or communicate.

Rachel’s Story:

“As a parent and carer of 2 lads with autism, life can be hectic! Our eldest lad is non-verbal and in particular is going through a tough time with puberty, and can get very physical with us when distressed.

Our eldest likes to chill out in the fruit cage and our youngest likes to run up and down the turf stack!

And as an individual I have also been able to escape: the allotment is my happy place! The peace, quiet and sheer therapy of digging and grubbing in the soil is a great restorative.”

Rachel from the West Norfolk branch working on her allotment
Rachel from the West Norfolk branch working on her allotment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To learn more about the National Autistic Society and how you can support them please click here.