Sensory Gardens for Autism

Sensory Walkway leading to a seating area

Sensory Gardens for Autism

A sensory garden is designed to stimulate the senses. With the combination of Mother Nature, planting, textures and sensory features a wide range of emotions can be established.  These can include calm, intrigue, fascination or joy.  Senses can be heightened through sight, sound, touch, small and taste.

They are popular with and beneficial to both children and adults, including those with sensory processing issues including autism. Firstly you need to establish for whom the garden is primarily intended. It is also important to understand what plants and features will benefit the user and create the desired atmosphere.

As Autism is a spectrum disorder, allowances have to be made to the unique requirements of each person using the sensory garden. If the garden is for a group of autistic users, such as at a school, the layout can be designed to allow for their own preferred space.  This could be a garden bench or a willow dome, a water feature or rustling bamboo. For multiple users, the space if best broken up into smaller sections.  You may like to see an area for plant tending included, a basket ball ring or even an open space for running. 

Certain items may not be suitable. Activities that make loud noises may suit some but not others.  For some autistic users the sound of obsessive repetitive behaviour being carried out on a outdoor musical chime instrument – resonating around a garden space will only make thing worse.  Having said this, a chime could be incorporated but sectioned to stop access at the wrong times. It is all in the design and planning

It is also important that the space is build to last. It is never possible to protect against a case of raised emotions being physically vented, but incorporating strength and longevity into the design will go a long way. Please get in touch if you would like us to help you establish a Sensory Garden for Autism.

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