Garden or beneficial outside area

Recommendation 14
If possible provide a garden or benevolent outside area

Chapter (theme)
garden / outside area (function)

Because of
most autism charactereistics

In order to
make residents 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.

Elaboration
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).
The independent autistic resident often has the same needs, which make a (small) garden or other benevolent outside area advisable.

The positive functions of an outside area manifest themselves pre-eminently in tending gardens, planters and flowerbeds or vegetable gardens. Artentzen & Steele say this facilitate the social interaction of residents.
Healing gardens are one step beyond because of their beneficial effects, to which people on the spectrum seem extra sensitive.
Mitrione & Larson 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 the extent of voluntary of forced contact with ones neighbors and other local residents. Because many autistic residents complain about unwanted contact with neighbors it’s important pay attention to the design of these areas, either when choosing a residence.

Ahrentzen & Steele

Ahrentzen, S. & Steele, K. (2010). Advancing Full Spectrum Housing: Designing for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Tempe, AZ: Arizona Board of Regents. (Section ‘Social interaction & privacy’) Here for PDF.
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.
residents complain
Seven out of ten Dutch people with Asd of over 50 said they did not appreciate contact with neighbors for social reasons. See Adelaar, Tess, Huis Voor Kees. De wooneisen en –wensen van 55 plussers met een vorm van autisme en een normale of hoge begaafdheid met betrekking tot het interieur, de woning en de omgeving van de woning. Adviesrapport. Amersfoort, Hogeschool Utrecht, 2008. (Scriptie)
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