Research Says: Outdoor Education Supports Autistic Children Making Friends, Taking Risks, & Learning About Nature

Kids love getting messy. They love playing outside. And when you provide them with opportunities for safe risk-taking and exploration, the learning outcomes and success that follow will prove invaluable to their development. This is true for all children, and today’s research takeaway episode gives further proof of the benefits for autistic children.

In this small scale study, four autistic children attend forest school, and then the children, along with their parents and teachers, provide feedback on the experience. And there are some very exciting qualitative outcomes.

This research brings up an interesting idea: how we can implement videos as a strategy in treatment sessions. It also supports the practices we are implementing as nature-based therapists: getting messy, risk-taking, learning about nature, and making friends in a safe space.

We’ll discuss:

  • Why this study specifically centers the voices of the autistic children who participated
  • How the researchers used videos to show the full range of experience for each child 
  • Why they got multiple sets of data responses (verbal, non-verbal, visual) and how they analyzed
  • The common themes that both parents and educators agreed on as outcomes they witnessed
  • The common themes in the children’s responses
  • How all the children depicted positive emotions when drawing their experience
  • Takeaways from this study for nature-based therapy

Resources from this episode:

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If you're ready to take the next step in this adventure, join our free Therapy in the Great Outdoors Community at therapyinthegreatoutdoors.com. The TGO community is a private space just for nature based pediatric practitioners. We have loads of resources there to support you as you start or grow a nature based practice or program.

If you’re serious about taking your nature-based practice to the next level, come join the Business Bedrocks Group Coaching Program in The Business Hive. You'll get clarity & confidence to grow a profitable and personally fulfilling business that runs on auto-pilot as much as possible. 

For even more resources, check out The Therapy in the Great Outdoors (TGO) Library, a proven toolkit for no-stress nature-based treatment planning.

Are you a pediatric therapist interested in taking your work with children out into nature? The ConTiGO Approach Online Course will open for registration soon: visit www.ConTiGOapproach.com to join the waitlist.