The benefits of immersing yourself in the great outdoors are certainly no secret. Many people consider camping and hiking to be essential parts of their summer plans for a good reason. For kids on the spectrum or with ADHD, experiencing nature can be an especially therapeutic activity.
Whether it’s stepping into a lush forest, taking in mountain views, or finding a scenic waterfall, taking in nature’s beauty has a very calming effect. The steady sounds, or quiet, of a natural environment, along with not being enclosed in a building, can reduce anxiety and bring a sense of peace. The visual stimulation of taking in scenery increases overall feelings of happiness. For kids with ASD, who typically struggle with sensory overload, this sort of setting will no doubt be a relief.
Going for nature walks or going on hikes help to develop motor skills in kids with ASD, while providing a beneficial outlet for excess energy in kids with ADHD. If your child is struggling to find motivation for physical activity, going on nature walks or hikes can bring an added level of excitement to the idea of getting exercise.
You may also find that learning about subjects related to the outdoors, such as identifying birds or trees, can become a productive area of interest if your child has ASD. Many parents find this can also be a great way to draw your child away from computer screens or other electronics.
Exploring the outdoors can also be beneficial in aiding social development for kids on the spectrum. Connecting through shared interests and experiences is especially important for kids with ASD, and the shared interest in nature can be a very strong bond. Nature camps and summer programs are becoming increasingly common as a therapeutic strategy that helps kids on the spectrum connect with their peers.
If your child has ASD keep in mind that he or she may be especially prone to wandering and getting lost. Careful supervision and monitoring will be of the utmost importance. Here is a great way to make sure that important information goes where your child goes!
Depending on where you live, leaving the business of the city behind you can be as simple as stepping out your front door, or can involve careful planning and travelling a good distance. Either way, experiencing nature will be well worth the effort. If you find yourself struggling to figure out what opportunities are nearby, simply do some research to find even the simplest of scenic escapes. You will likely find that you are helping to calm and inspire your child, while practicing self-care all at the same time.