The Children’s Institute vocational horticulture program provides opportunities for students and adults on the autistic spectrum to develop skills in four areas: vocational, life, social and personal development. It provides opportunities for The Children’s Institute High School and Young Adult Program as well as for adults 21+ at The Center for Independence. Our recently constructed greenhouse provides an incredible new depth to our vocational horticulture program. Our goal is to secure funding to adequately support and sustain this exceptional endeavor.
The horticulture program, including the (future) greenhouse, is an important component of our program. It has been widely recognized that horticultural therapy offers both cognitive and physical benefits to individuals with an autism spectrum disorder. In addition to teaching marketable gardening and business skills, horticultural therapy can enhance self-esteem, alleviate depression, improve fine and gross motor skills, provide opportunities in problem solving, enhance communication skills, and encourage social interaction. Taking care of plants can help improve concentration and memory skills and the physical work involved provides great opportunities for sensory integration, as well as regular exercise. Individuals, who have been in dependent relationships, receiving services from caregivers, can experience responsibility in having a nurturing role in growing the plants.