Children on the spectrum need lots of fun sensory play in their diets. Sometimes it can get pretty expensive paying for specialty toys and educational programs for ASD children. No one should have to worry about going into debt because of expensive programs for their children, it isn’t necessary. You can design your own home programs using everyday items out in the world that are inexpensive. This little project uses dollar store herbs that your children can plant themselves.
You will need:
little gardening shovel
card stock paper
dollar store herbs.
Gardening gloves (Optional)
The herbs I bought you can also find in regular grocery stores for about $3 each, which is what they cost in the plant nurseries too. With shortages it is pretty hard finding the same things depending on which area you are in. With ASD children sometimes it is best to buy the whole plant to plant instead of seeds which will take longer and may produce frustrations. Or even sadder…lack of interest. I imagine the kids thinking “Like, why are we watering dirt”. I still encourage all parents to grow something with their children using seeds. Witnessing the whole process of life is a fun activity for all ages. Try beans first when doing that, they tend to start sprouting pretty fast.
Look for any produce in your markets that have roots still attached. You can plant anything that still has a root base. Now whether or not it stays alive is another story, but it’s still fun to get involved in gardening and playing in the dirt. Dirt on our hands is so relaxing and such a fun sensory experience for most children.
If your children are hyper sensitive then gardening gloves will be necessary. But encourage your children, even if only for small periods at a time, to touch the dirt and feel it. Slowly exposing and desensitizing children to different textures helps children want to experience different activities. Soon they will start looking forward to their sensory play times. All ASD children are different so this is where the parent comes in. You know your children best and how much they can handle or will tolerate. I always encourage baby steps in any new activity or goal.
I had a giant pot full of dirt ready for my kids to plant and play in when they were little but you can use individual pots for your herb garden too.
Recycle the package the herbs came in and cut up the labels to make garden picks. Cut out several squares from pretty card stock and glue the labels onto that, then glue to a wooden skewer. Careful with the sharp ends on the skewers, cut those tips off if working with children to avoid any accidents.
Extra tips- Check out books on gardening for children and look through them together. Watch peaceful garden vlogs with photos and images of all kinds of plants along with calming music. Most ASD children I have been in contact with love music. Make sure to have a large plastic bucket of water near by for your children to dunk their hands in when gardening. The feeling of having dirt on their hands gets to be too much. It helps them feel in control when they are able to go to the water bowl and clean up when ever they want.
Happy gardening everyone.