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Saturday 18 November 2017
Life & Style

A healing garden for autistic children

Zakiyah Ramsingh

Further to our article on August 20 on the healing garden at UWI, we present an article on another healing garden built for a very specific purpose that of offering services which focus on therapy for persons with autism and support for their families.

This project came to life through the Professionalism, Ethics and Communications in Health (PECH) course at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, UWI, St Augustine. The course aims to develop communication skills and ethics in students who are future health professionals. We were required to conduct community outreach over a period of six weeks.

Four friends and I formed a group and named it Ayurvantes Manos which simply means helping hands. We felt that this name was representative of the work we had set out to do.

Autism Place, located in Mausica, is the headquarters of the Autistic Society of Trinidad and Tobago (ASTT) and my friends and I decided to help the ASTT by re-establishing a functional sensory garden. We spent our weekends working to refurbish the garden at Autism Place, painting the troughs and planting a variety of plants and herbs that appealed to the five senses. These included basil, chive, rosemary and mint along with bushy plants and ground covering plants. We also hung wind chimes and had plans to have a water feature but could not achieve this on our budget.

The purpose of a sensory garden is to appeal to the five senses and to engage the person in a pleasant experience which would make them feel calm. Many times, someone who has an autism spectrum disorder has problems with processing one or multiple senses. This garden allows them to be exposed to the senses in a welcoming and calming environment. We completed our project in the early part of the year and have received great feedback from the managers and the president of ASTT. The children love playing in the garden and even the parents have expressed their gratitude to our group. We had aimed to bring sunshine to Autism Place through a sensory garden and I hope that this garden can continue to do this for a long time to come.

Ultimately, my friends and I would like to continue our acts of charity with the help of others. Anyone wishing to help us with our future projects can contact us at mbbs2021tntautisticsociety@gmail.com

For further information contact the Eastern Horticultural Club at 357-5033, 720-2698 or easternhorticultural@hotmail.com The Club meets on the first Saturday of every month (except public holidays) at 3 pm at Moreton Hall, Aramalaya Presbyterian Church, Cochrane Street, Tunapuna.

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