This post is part 2 of the previous article ” Tips for parents to help your child with Autism thrive – 1″
Benefits of Nature that can help your child with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) thrive.
“Mom, see this cloud looks like a firetruck, this one looks like a dog” and so much more. Girish my younger son who is autistic can spend hours describing the clouds. While exploring his imagination is endless. This skill was thought to him by his classroom para (aid/shadow teacher). She was actually distracting him during one of his PE periods since it is difficult for him to wait for his turn. Little did she know that she introduced him to the biggest calming as well as pretend play activity which he really admires.
Don’t we all love nature? Being outdoors and engaging with nature is wondrous. It is also extremely beneficial for children in the spectrum. Observing birds and squirrels always has a calming effect. Being calm is so critical for them since they can process well.
Extensive research is regularly conducted on the benefits of spending time in nature for children with ASD. Research by Andrea Faber Taylor, Frances E. Kuo in 2009 concluded that ‘Twenty minutes in a park setting was sufficient to elevate attention performance relative to the same amount of time in other settings’.
From the research initiated by Chang, Yuan-Yu & Chang, Chun-Yen. (2019). The Benefits of Outdoor Activities for Children with Autism, the results indicated that outdoor activities provide 7 main benefits to children with autism, including promoting communication, emotion, cognition, interaction, physical activity, and decreasing autistic sensitivity.
If you have backyard or access to park and weather permitting take them outdoors as much as possible for them to experience with smell, sound, and touch. Even a small balcony or a window that exhibits outside world or clouds will keep their mind calm and boost their confidence.
Two days back, Girish had a very emotional day. According to his class teacher, he was crying throughout the day for no apparent reason. At home too, during his ABA therapy, he had a rough time with meltdowns, frustration. His therapist patiently tried different methods to calm him down but not helpful.
After the therapy session, Girish desired to go to the backyard. It was drizzling and expected to rain in a while but seeing him cry non-stop I allowed him to go out. He was overjoyed, took his scooter and rushed out. He didn’t bother about getting wet and was busy riding the scooter at the same time stopping to look at the raindrops fall in the nearby puddle, wiping the dew drops from our tiny lemon tree leaf and enjoying the rain.
He was called inside once the rain became heavy. The best transformation was the next 2 hrs till he went to bed. Girish was the calmest and had a relaxed sleep.
Girish’s entire day of overloaded stress was pacified in 15 minutes of playing in rain. Such is the calming effect of Water!
Water is a powerful element to generate mind calmness. Whenever you get a chance take your kids to the beach, to look at waterfalls or just allow them to get drenched a little bit in the rain.
Music is yet another gift from nature that can play a vital role in the development of ASD kids. Having some kind of music in the background will calm your child.
Research on Music therapy has displayed results that ASD children have the superior abilities in pitch processing, labeling of emotions in music or recognizing the similar musical tune in another song is much stronger. Music reduces anxiety and will help increase their speech ability too.
For Girish, my son, music is very relaxing. At times he would surprise us by listening to the musical tune of one particular song and then he would say the lyrics of another song that has a similar melody. We seldom know how he got that skill.
Did you know that Indian Raaga/melody named “Shankarabharanam” cures mental illness? This raaga holds the powers to calm the disturbed mind and cure mental disorders. Click here to know more about Raaga’s and benefits.
Have hope always in your child and yourself.