If your child has a disability, you discover a lot of challenges and frustrations in trying to encourage your child’s development.

But gardening might just be the perfect way to ease those frustrations.

Getting out among the bugs and the bushes is more than just good fun, it has lots of developmental benefits for kids with disabilities too.

In 2010 the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) published a report that reflected the positive benefits of gardening projects in SEN schools.

Their study showed that the kids there discovered more than just a new hobby and mucky fingernails.

Many of them demonstrated improved patience, concentration and behaviour, according to the report, which attributed this to the process-orientated nature of working in the garden. The kids seemed to develop a better understanding of cause-and-effect relationships and the idea of trial and error.

The teamwork element of the project earned praise for helping kids to develop better social skills (although we think this could be just as easily applied to a home setting, with the whole family participating in little gardening projects).

And on top of all that, many of the kids showed improvement in their gross and fine motor skills as a result of the varied activities involved.

So here are our top tips for cultivating green-fingered Firefly friends:

Start inside –  fire your child’s imagination by planting some fast-growing seeds in a little container indoors. Cress is great for this, it grows so fast and demonstrates the whole growing and nurturing process on an easy-to-grasp scale.
Make space – find a little patch of your garden that your child can call their own. Take photos of the empty patch at the start and keep documenting the journey as your little gardener plants and develops his little mini-garden.
Plant stuff you can eat – fussy eaters often open their minds to new tastes and textures if they understand exactly where they came from and especially if they grew them themselves.
Get creative – your child’s condition might limit their mobility around the garden but there may be ways around it. You could use an Upsee (of course) to get around with your child and even help them with digging, raking and brushing actions as both your hands are free.
Raise it up – if getting onto the ground with your child is difficult, you can buy or make containers that sit up off the ground and become raised flowerbeds. If they are a little higher up, they are easier to access from wheelchairs or adapted seating.

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