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Gardening for Autistic child

Last post 11-01-2010 3:07 PM by RoseisaRose. 15 replies.

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  • 16/12/2009 09:31 AM
    • RoseisaRose
    • Wiltshire
    • 16 Dec 2009
    • 7
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     Greetings from Salisbury.  I'm a single mum with ME/CFS raising a child with autism/hyperactivity.  Yeah...that's usually "interesting".  When the marriage deteriorated last year I moved into a new property with a garden that, shall we say, "needs work": a rubbish tip filled with rusty metal, old nails, rotting carpet, tarps, and discarded wires, incredibly uneven lawn that is a nightmare to mow and I've taken a spill just trying to move around out there more than once, my son has fallen off the split level wall as there's no fencing, broken paving...I took what I could get, but it's obvious that it needs work.  My son loves being outdoors and would be outside all the time if he could help it, and we both love gardening.  

     However, with all the research into sensory gardens for autistic children, into gardening as therapeutic for the disabled, for all the community and school garden projects, there is very little out there for the disabled who actually want to garden at their own home who may be isolated or lack the mobility to get out and about.  In all my hunting round I have literally found only ONE charity which assists disabled with grants to make their gardens more accessible.  All other grants see it as a "want" and not a "need" - but when I can keep my child calm, entertained and safe, get myself out of the house, make my home more beautiful, grow food and cut down on food costs for my family, I wonder what part of a garden is NOT a need?!

    I have had a brilliant landscaper round to have a look at the place, and even though she's doing her best to pull strings to find some cheap materials to level my garden, put in fencing for my son's safety, and fixing the paving, it's a huge struggle for me to find the funding.  I've been contacting local clubs like the Rotary, Lion's Club, the Wilton House, Gardening for the Disabled, anything and everything I can think of, but if anyone here may have some ideas - as it's the foundation groundwork that is the most important - and most difficult to fund - I would be most grateful.

    In the meantime, I'll spelunk round the site, take in some ideas, and keep hoping I can get something going.  My warcry of late has been "If I am going to be a prisoner in my own home, then at least allow me to gild the cage."

     

    Cheers in advance.

     

  • 16/12/2009 10:32 AM
    • sue1002
    • Ipswich, Suffolk
    • 06 Sep 2005
    • 9,667
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     This might be a bit of a long-shot RoseisaRose but have you tried contacting your local Citizen's Advice Bureau or Social Services?  Both should have details of where you might be able to obtain some help and point you in the right direction.

    It sounds like the main priority is getting the ground cleared of all the rubbish and this could be achieved using volunteers (your local paper could be a starting point or those doing 'community service') but it would be best to get advice first on how to go about it. 

    sue1002
  • 16/12/2009 10:46 AM
    • RoseisaRose
    • Wiltshire
    • 16 Dec 2009
    • 7
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     Unfortunately, Social Services is hopeless.  Even a disabled facilities grant won't help as gardening is just considered "not that important" even if it's unsafe and inaccessible.  I've already tried.  The CAB however might be worth getting in touch with, and I have contacted the Rotary and Lions club to maybe at least get the things out my garden, which would be a start.  Garden would still be unusuable even if all that was gone however, but it would be something.

  • 16/12/2009 07:31 PM
    • ErWe
    • Vienna, Austria
    • 29 Apr 2008
    • 93
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    I have no ideas about the charities or funding in UK (living in Austria).

     But I remember vividly the garden featured in one of my gardening books, created ba a mother for her autistic child. Perhaps you can find the book in a library, for suggestions:

    The New Tech Garden, Paul Cooper, Mitechell Beazley 2001, Octopus Publ. Group 2001. The chapter has (in the german edition, which  I own) the title The Touchy Feely Garden. The designer was/is Emily Ault. If you can't find the book and are interested in the information, I can photocopy or scan the relevant pages (some very interersting images there), and translate the text back into english.

    regards, r.w.
  • 16/12/2009 07:44 PM
    • Phot's-Moll
    • The sunny South coast.
    • 06 Jan 2007
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     It would probably be a good idea to contact your local horticultural society or garden club. You might well find people who will be willing to offer practical help, and you're bound to get some useful advice.

    I appreciate your garden needs work and you may not be able to do it all yourself, but please don't think you can't enjoy a garden without spending loads of money on it. If friends family or even neighbours can help clear the worst of the rubbish and take it to the tip that would be a good start. I suspect your son could get involved with that too.

    If all the fence needs repairing, then check whose responsibility this is - maybe it's your neighbours.

    http://patsysplot.blogspot.co.uk/
  • 16/12/2009 09:27 PM
    • geoff51
    • Totton, Hampshire
    • 13 Feb 2009
    • 187
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    Hi,

    Having had 2 children with many handicaps I received a lot of help from the Rowntree Foundation for equipment and even a holiday. Bearing in mind this was quite a few years ago I am not sure if they are still available, but you child must be under 16 and they can be contacted via social services.

    Another thought is the large supermarkets have a community and charities section which may be able to help with a donation or may get a group of staff to volunteer to help you. You would need to contact the relevant section at their head office.

    Hope this helps

    Geoff

    PS there are a lot of army etc in the Salisbury area! just a thoughtBig Smile

    Geoff51 Pond life!?!
  • 17/12/2009 07:12 AM
    • RoseisaRose
    • Wiltshire
    • 16 Dec 2009
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     I appreciate that gardening takes money - especially what I'm intending on doing by getting the garden into shape to start.  However I'm a mistress of necessity when it comes to finding ways to garden on the cheap; not just gardens for cut flowers, but fruit and veg which invariably helps with the food bills.  However, if it was just as easy as getting a bunch of mates round, cheerily getting my son to help clear up and away we'd go, I would have done it.  An autistic, hyperactive six year old can't go to a rubbish tip, trust me on this!  All of my friends are disabled as well, some actually wheelchair bound, and having just as much difficulty if not more in tending their homes, let alone gardens, which is a shame as they were all keen gardeners in the past.  Salisbury seems to suffer from a great lack of interest in disabled issues, and this is something I'm trying to change.   This is also why I am appealing round to charities which I haven't found yet.  I have found a fair few things which might be of help to others in the same boat:

    Gardening for Disabled -  they assist with funding items to get one back into the garden; paving, raised beds, tools, and so on.  The joining fee for the trust is minimal, and I'll be talking to them soon.

    The Family Fund - one of the few charities out there who seems to fund gardening works; many just won't.  I'm not sure how much they can help with but seeing that they are actually coming out to see my child rather than make a decision from afar, they're going to see EXACTLY what I mean by hyperactive autistic boy; it seems most people's experience with autistic children is a child that stands in a corner and flaps their hands.  It's usually a wakeup call when they meet mine!

    Cultivations - small organisation working to lobby on the worth of therapeutic gardens.  They've invited me to a forum which will be mostly comprised of health and social welfare professionals, so that's getting the message directly to people who make decisions on the disabled facilities grants - and should help them realise that this isn't always just a "want", but a "need."

    We'll see how we manage to do

  • 17/12/2009 08:34 AM
    • RoseisaRose
    • Wiltshire
    • 16 Dec 2009
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     Eek, for some reason I think I've doubleposted, let me just clear up the thread a bit.

     


  • 17/12/2009 08:10 PM
    • geoff51
    • Totton, Hampshire
    • 13 Feb 2009
    • 187
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    I think the Family fund is part of the rowntree trust i mentioned in my previous post, they are very helpful and always assess the child personnally

    Geoff51 Pond life!?!
  • 17/12/2009 10:14 PM
    • Phot's-Moll
    • The sunny South coast.
    • 06 Jan 2007
    • 4,667
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     I didn't realise your son was only six, or I wouldn't have suggested he help with lifting the rubbish.

    I hope you get good results from the organisations you're contacting.

    http://patsysplot.blogspot.co.uk/
  • 08/01/2010 03:37 AM
    • RoseisaRose
    • Wiltshire
    • 16 Dec 2009
    • 7
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     So far, so good!  I have managed the fencing  - though it needs to wait until the snow is gone, thank you Family Fund!  Sadly, funds for the disabled to get back gardening are scant, and I do not understand why.  A "short break holiday" isn't a break for me but it's all charities seem to offer - why people don't just ask me what I need, I don't know.

    Things move apace; I now have DLA for my son and I can start putting money away to build raised beds...now I'm going to try and get some cuttings.

    Onward!

  • 08/01/2010 08:30 AM
    • Phot's-Moll
    • The sunny South coast.
    • 06 Jan 2007
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     I'm glad you're getting somewhere.

    I see what you mean about the help offered. The cost of helping with making a garden usable probably wouldn't be a lot more than providing a holiday in some cases, but it would provide benefit for a much longer time.

    http://patsysplot.blogspot.co.uk/
  • 08/01/2010 09:13 PM
    • geoff51
    • Totton, Hampshire
    • 13 Feb 2009
    • 187
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    Hi

    Glad things are coming together for you and your son and as i said before the Family Fund is great.

    What you must do is to push every button for help, become a thorn in the side of Social services until you get what you need they will not offer, you must ask and ask again, believe me from many years bitter experience he who shouts loudest gets results.

    Have you tried the Autistic Society they may be able to suggest routes to travel for assistance for your lad and his garden?

    Post me if you need any help

    Big Smile

    Geoff51 Pond life!?!
  • 09/01/2010 06:13 AM
    • RoseisaRose
    • Wiltshire
    • 16 Dec 2009
    • 7
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     I've noticed this about social services - I keep hinting at the grant the council has to offer and they are not keen at ALL, keep trying to fob me off to other things and not really caring to get involved.  I've already dislocated my shoulder from a fall on that paving outside, so curse it, I want to know why accessible gardens aren't considered important.

    The NAS isn't really much help; again there's just so little available out there for disabled children with regard to a garden.  Even the local parents of disabled children are spending a lot of time pushing for a short-break fund - I'll help them with that but honestly, it does me zero good.  I am however involved with the local Action 21 (which doesn't have a horticulture section - see the trend here?  I may need to push for that myself) and I've some lovely people donating cuttings and seeds over the next few months so I can get a start.   It's coming together!

  • 11/01/2010 02:03 PM
    • Claire Hollis
    • RHS Garden Wisley
    • 11 Jan 2010
    • 1
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    After seeing your entry in the RHS forum, I thought I might point you in the direction of these two sites that may offer help in both funding and information about setting up a garden for your specific needs. THRIVEwww.thrive.org.ukThis is a charity organisation that uses gardening to change the lives of disabled people. They have an information service with briefing sheets and publications. They also have a second site that has tips for easier gardening and details of tried and tested garden equipment and tools.

    RHS Campaign for School Gardening http://apps.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening/default.aspaThere is a range of information on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website – However, this site is primarily aimed at schools, even so there are some interesting resources about setting up and planning a garden plus information about gaining funding that may be appropriate for you Fundinghttp://apps.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening/teachershome/resources/findingfunding.aspa Resources for getting startedhttp://apps.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening/teachershome/resources/startingschoolgardening/default.aspa We are currently developing some resources of our own to help pupils garden with a range of SEN needs. This is a result of working with Six SEN Schools. You can follow their progress by logging onto Hayley Young’s Blog. http://mygarden.rhs.org.uk/tags/SEN+Schools/default.aspx We anticipate that resources will be available on the campaign website from summer 2010.