A garden or benevolent outside area

A garden or benevolent outside area

Recommendation 14
If possible provide a garden or benevolent outside area

Chapter (theme)
garden / outside area (function)

Because of
most autism characteristics

In order to
make family members profit from the salutary effects of plants and gardens on the one hand and to protect them from negative influences from the outside world on the other.

Most treatment, and long-stay homes have gardens and all schools have at least a play area. These provide opportunities to interact with others and engage in physical activity differently from indoors, and often to enjoy nature.
The outside area also has ‘defensive functions’, primarily as a buffer between private and public spheres. It can offer a certain protection against the encroaching outside world, both social (strangers) and physical (mainly noise).

Children and youngsters who live with their parents have the same needs, which make a (small) garden or other benevolent outside area advisable.
The positive functions of a garden (or patio, etc) with play sets on the motor skills are mentioned in recommendation 11, along with the possibilities to get into contact with children in the neighborhood.
If there is space for nature: it is generally believed to be beneficial to children and young people with autism. Mitrione & Larsen discuss the general health benefits of vegetable and flower gardens and offer (next to more literature suggestions) valuable tips for landscaping.

The ‘defensive functions’ of outside areas differ with the living situation. In rural and suburban areas it’s mainly the garden which acts as a buffer, when measures as proposed in recommendation 7 are applied. Besides protection from noise, Mitrione & Larsen also mention the barring of smoke and artificial light.
In an urban environment the concern is mainly with galleries of flats or communal porches. The way such spaces are conceived co-determine both the disadvantages of unwanted contact and the advantages of friendly relations with other children and residents.

Mitrione & Larsen

See Mitrione, Steve and Jean Larson, ‘Healing by Design: Healing Gardens and Therapeutic Landscapes’, In: Implications. A Newsletter by InformeDesign, 2 (2002) 10, 1-4. Here for PDF.