There are so many reasons to love the outdoors. Being outdoors exposes us to natural sunlight which aids the production and use of melatonin in our bodies, improving our sleep quality. It allows us to make use of all our senses and tends to be very restorative to both body and soul. As movement stimulates the verbal centres of the brain, again being outdoors playing or working or just enjoying the sun are likely to have a positive impact on communication skills. Outdoor time therefore has many benefits to autistic individuals.
My boys have always loved the outdoors – being in nature. It takes a little more encouragement these days to get them outside but once they are there, they really enjoy it and the benefits for their overall well being are evident.
As a young person I moved with my family to acreage just out of town. My siblings and I were always outdoors – exploring, helping my folks in the garden and enjoying being in the sun recreating. My folks are still living in our old family home and the garden has become a haven and playground for all 11 grandchildren. My folks have built tracks through the gardens with special characters hiding here and there; with interesting objects such as mail boxes and oddly sized logs on which to jump. There are little seats carved from old trees, vegetables and fruits, a variety of scents, swings hanging from enormous old gum trees and the aging family cockatoo to boot! All the children just love having a visit and for the boys, it’s a hugely restorative time for them (and for me too!!)
Recently, for therapy, my Dad (aka GrandBob) came and helped T start a small vegetable patch at our house. T really enjoys following my Dad about the garden at my folks house so dad thought T might enjoy having a garden of his own. It’s been a huge success. I will admit it’s possible that I get more pleasure out of it than T but you know the old phrase … if Mama is happy!!
My folks gifted us with some Murrayas for up the side of our house and I’ve been keen to get them planted. It’s usually T who likes to potter about with me but this weekend it was J. We have had such a lovely, simple time in the garden. I love those little sideline conversations that happen when you work side by side. It’s calm and eye contact is not required. Some of our best conversations have been in the garden whilst watering the plants! It’s the simple pleasures that bring such joy and lovely memories.
We all get so busy that forget to make time to get outside even just for five minutes – to feel the sun on our faces and the wind in our hair. Why not eat your lunch outside in the sun, or do the kids homework outside on the grass or read books together on the trampoline? There are so many ways to get more outdoor time. I recommend it – for everyone!