The main goals for therapeutic gardens for children with ASD include:
- To help children to apply what they have been learning in the classroom in a real-world environment. This provides them with critical coping skills outside the classroom.
- Outdoor play and learning environments should help children with autism and special needs to have fun in a safe and accepting outdoor setting. Many autistic children spend a lot of time in highly structured indoor learning environments.
- To connect children with the restorative benefits of nature. According to Kaplan (1995), nature has restorative and healing powers.
For more information on the goals of these therapeutic gardens, please see our resource ‘Therapeutic Gardens for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder’. Learn more..
There are many specific design principles you can employ when creating therapeutic gardens for children with ASD. These principles are extremely important in helping you to achieve the maximum benefits the garden can offer, whilst catering to the specific symptoms of the condition. These principles include:
- Create a garden that is sustainable
- Consider cues for orientation in the garden
- Design for security, safety and supervision
- Provide space/s to retreat from sensory overload
- Create a variety of specialised spaces to accommodate different therapeutic activities and to cater to a variety of needs
- Design space for sensory integration activities
- Stimulate gross motor activities
- Stimulate fine motor activities
- Provide spaces with loose parts for manipulation
- Provide activities for physical exertion
- Provide opportunities for increased socialisation
- Design spaces for directed play therapy and self-help skills
- Design with lighting considerations in mind
- Design for future spatial flexibility
- Design to accommodate all children – principles of inclusivity
- Make the space welcoming
- Design for maximum interaction with nature
- Design for ease of use and maintenance.
For more information on why these principles are so vital, as well as details on how to achieve the principles in your garden space, please check our resource ‘Therapeutic Gardens for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder’. Learn more..