Autism and gardening

If you’ve read Becoming my mother, you’ll know that I started taking an interest in gardening a few months ago. This is ongoing, with mixed success. As a budding gardener, I am following in my mother’s footsteps as usual. (I think she may also be on the autism spectrum too.)

I am also following in her footsteps by watching a gardening programme – but not just any old gardening programme – nothing beats “The Autistic Gardener” for me! Have you seen it? An award winning autistic gardener gathered a group of keen amateurs who are all on the spectrum. Some have autism and some were diagnosed with Asperger’s – they are all great to watch on TV.

It was so refreshing to see non-NTs represented on TV, and to see how they flourished with their new responsibilities.

One of the younger team members said to camera, how awful it was to feel useless. I think this feeling is experienced by many on the autism spectrum. We see ‘everyone else’ doing things that we can’t – making friends, fitting in at work, moving into their own homes, and we feel that there’s something wrong with us because we struggle. We convince ourselves that we don’t fit. We’re just useless.

What an awful situation to be in. I hope being on that show has changed his opinion of himself. I also hope people watching it, who have autism, or who know someone with autism, will change their opinions too.

For me, gardening has not been a career lifeline, or a social game-changer, but it is satisfying to have home grown herbs, peaches, and carrots to eat. It is also good to sit out in the fresh air in a space that has become more beautiful because you have worked with nature.

I look forward to adding more to my garden.

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