Gardening for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Special Educational Needs
160 pages, 5 x 8 1/2
14 b&w illustrations
Release Date:15 Feb 2012

Gardening for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Special Educational Needs

Engaging with Nature to Combat Anxiety, Promote Sensory Integration and Build Social Skills

Jessica Kingsley Publishers

A garden or nature setting presents the perfect opportunity forchildren with Autism Spectrum Disorders and special needs to learn,play and strengthen body and mind. This book empowers teachers andparents with little gardening know-how to get outside and use nature tomotivate young learners.

Using a mindfulness approach, Natasha Etherington presents a simplegardening program that offers learning experiences beyond  those aspecial needs student can gain within the classroom. The book outlinesthe many positive physical, cognitive, sensory, emotional and socialbenefits of getting out into the garden and provides specially adaptedgardening activities for a variety of needs, including those withdevelopmental disabilities and behavioural difficulties, as well aswheelchair users. With a focus on the therapeutic potential of nature,the book shows that gardening can help reduce feelings of anxiety,provide an outlet for physical aggression, build self-esteem throughthe nurturing of plants and much more.

With this practical program, teachers and parents can easily adoptgardening activities into their schedules and enjoy the benefits ofintroducing children with special needs to nature and the rhythms ofthe seasons.

Natasha Etherington is a horticultural therapist andvolunteer master gardener. She designs gardens and adapts horticulturalactivities to enable people with barriers to enjoy the experience ofgardening. Her therapeutic garden design at Pitt Meadows ElementarySchool won the 2010 Accessibility and Leisure and Recreation Award fromthe City of Maple Ridge. She lives in British Columbia, Canada with herhusband Jason and two children. Her website can be visited


1. Introduction

2. Mindfulness Approach

3. Why Dig?

4. Autism Spectrum Disorder

5. Anxiety, Anger and Depression

6. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

7. Developmental Disability

8. Wheelchair Users

9. Poisonous Plants

10. Gardens for Children who Suffer from Asthma and Allergies

11. Conclusion


Benefits of Horticultural Therapy as Listed in AHTA PositionPaper

Risk Assessment

Relaxation/Visualization Exercise for Deep Breathing

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