Tuesday, August 3, 2021
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Nature as an ointment for children with autism – News

Erin Lullaway and her four students are high in the Best Pocket Garden next to the Brooklyn Vocational Training Center, a public high school for adolescents in need of special needs in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn last Friday morning. I was pulling a radish from my growing bed. ..

“How many radishes are there, Javier?” Laraway asked an 18-year-old man swaying back and forth. He was “exciting” and was a repetitive action that many people with autism use to calm themselves. He raised five fingers.

“Thank you for your hard work,” the teacher replied. “What do you think you are working in the garden today?” She offered a communication device like a tablet and asked. Javier pointed to the boy’s icon labeled “Proud.”

The students “feel the great success of actually accomplishing something in the garden,” said Lullaway. “Javiel picks up a wheelbarrow or waters the plants without being asked, but in the classroom it’s even difficult to remove the cap from the water bottle. I’m always surprised at what he can do here.”

Lullaway is not trying to treat autism, a student with an influential neurological condition 1 in 54 children in the United StatesAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to varying degrees. However, she hopes that the relaxed atmosphere of the garden will help many students who are in the harsh end of the autism spectrum improve their linguistic and social skills and prepare for employment after graduation. is.

It seems to be helping. Lullaway reported that her students interact more often in the garden than in the classroom.

“Children with autism aren’t doing enough outside,” said Temple Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University who suffers from autism. “They are stuck in the basement playing video games.”

Studies show Children with autism may be particularly vulnerable to screen addiction.. Dr. Grandin says the situation has worsened since the school was closed by Covid-19.

But now that summer camps and other outdoor facilities that serve children with autism have reopened, some autism experts hope that this trend will begin to reverse.

“In nature, the nervous system has the opportunity to decompress and recover itself,” said Michelle Brands, who oversees the Counting Butterfly, a treatment center for children near Toronto. “This is especially important for children with autism, because their sensory system can overload much faster.”

Nature is not only a relaxing place for autistic youth, but also an exciting place for them, Brands said. The same ability to focus on one thing that can make them crazy about video games allows them to focus on the details — the sound of a single insect, the texture of grass leaves. Of course, the autism spectrum is wide and each child has different needs and strengths.

One boy, Brands, was happy to work on everything about water. Seeing how the water moved and swirled, he felt the water in his hands. She advised her parents to put water bottles, fountains and small ponds around the house.

“We used water as a bridge, which is a tool for him to feel more comfortable in the world,” she said. When the boy entered high school, he organized a club to discuss water issues. This is a big step for children who previously had difficulty building relationships with others.

Another natural aid to help many children with autism is to treat animals, Dr. Grandin said. Animals don’t think in words. They live in a sense-based world. Some children with autism are really related to animals for that reason. “

more and more General form of natural remedies Working with horses for kids on the spectrum.

Katelyn Peters, Associate Professor at Temple Grandin Horse Center, Colorado State University, Fort Collins Conducted a small pilot survey It suggested that spending time with horses reduces hypersensitivity and hyperactivity in autistic adolescents and increases their level of communication.

Learning How to train a dog also seems to help some autistic children According to a study published in March in the journal Autism, it is related to people.

One of the best places to work with a variety of animals is Elijah’s Retreat, a 50-acre dude ranch near Tyler, Texas, for hiking, fishing and horse riding for autistic children and their families. It offers.

“These kids are very tactile,” said Cheryl Torres, director of Elijah’s retreat. “They want to feel the horse’s legs, check their teeth and pinch their noses. They are trying to understand it — how it works, how it walks, where its muscles are. Is it? “

She said it was worth the effort. “For autistic children, wild nature is a place where they can be themselves without having to live up to the expectations of others. It can be a rare product in this world.”

Gonzalo Benard, an art photographer and therapist from Cascais, Portugal, says that for people with autism, spending a quiet time alone in nature can be a psychological change. Benard didn’t talk until he was seven. “Autism has brought me a wonderful world of silence and introspection,” he said.

As a young man, Benard learned the ancient religion of Bonn from a Tibetan shamanist teacher. In some traditional cultures, autism has been called “shamanic disease,” Benard explained. Because people on the spectrum have increased access to the inner world and were believed to be natural healers.

He was trained in yoga and meditation and spent hours “lying in the woods listening to the earth” at a time, he said.

“It gave me a deeper connection with nature and other people.”

Dongying Li, an assistant professor at the University of Texas A & M, who studies landscape and health, suggests that flexible and unstructured play in nature be enjoyed in a unique way. did. “Use photos of puddles, trees, pocket parks, and even gardens to plan the step-by-step steps, starting from where you feel most comfortable,” she said.

Other suggestions that may be adapted as needed:

  • Benard suggested helping children find a safe place in nature. If parents have a backyard or land, build a wooden house, a safe haven where they can go and be quiet.

  • Lullaway said he would look around and observe different species. Families can make games by counting the number of birds and butterflies they see every day.

  • Galbraith suggested that the children be free to play without being instructed. If that’s what they want, allow them to spend years staring at the trunk of the tree. Give them the space and time to experience nature in their own way. If they live far from nature, set up a bird feeder or a window yard.

  • According to Torres, plan a trip to your local ranch and choose apples, strawberries, pumpkins, or fresh vegetables. They may enjoy scavenger hunts and starry sky observations. Keep exposing your child to new things so that they can find something that is really exciting.

Nature as an ointment for children with autism

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