A Little Bit About....
0 comment Saturday, June 21, 2014 |
Ages ago I had a site called Mother Dirt; about my alternative self with an allotment. Like many people with families, I found the allotment tending rather difficult, and this didn't improve when I received the diagnosis of Autism for my son. I already had Fibro/ME myself so I made the decision to garden closer to home instead, and started filling my back garden with pots.
With a marriage breakdown, I managed to get a house with a back garden, which turned out to be in horrible condition; flinty soil you can't dig in without hitting rocks at every turn; humpy, uneven turf that is a nightmare to mow; a "compost pile" (read "tip") that former residents had left, filled with rusty metal, rusty nails, old carpet, and broken concrete; rampant snowberry, bramble and fencing that while adequate, did not extend to the split level (and then proved later to be very inadequate indeed); broken paving and a mud-strewn lower partition that at one point was supposed to be paved, but no one bothered.
I took the house because I had very little choice otherwise, because a garden is vital for my hyperative autistic son, our cat and the dog he adores. I've struggled to mow, fought the brambles and weeds, attempted to clear out the mess, keep the paving clear of mud, but my son has fallen off the wall partition twice, I've taken a tumble on the muddy broken paving and dislocated my shoulder, and the fence unfortunately doesn't instil a sense of "division" for my son. He doesn't understand social cues and has a tendency to yell at neighbours in their own yards, trying to get their attention, and when it doesn't succeed he throws a temper tantrum.
Now, in theory, being disabled I should be able to get a grant to fix the house issues for better mobility. And I could...as long as what I'm asking for isn't a garden. Gardens are "wants", not "needs". However, the research seems to prove otherwise; autistic children respond greatly to sensory gardens, and as a result more and more of these are springing up in community public spaces (unless, of course, you live where I'm living). The recognition of therapeutic gardening as being very beneficial to the disabled and the mentally ill, and even to offenders has been documented time and time again.
My son is not like "typical" autistic children - it seems the type of autistic child people are used to dealing with are the quiet ones who stand in a corner and flap their hands. My son is INYOURFACE, running round at full tilt, no sense of danger, always the centre of attention. He's a ball of energy and takes two people to keep him under control at school. Cheap toys which another child might be able to make last for a while break after a few hours. There are a lot of charities willing to offer toys or short breaks, but toys would have to be very durable, and short breaks to be honest, are not "breaks" for me - they're extra work and I'm usually exhausted by the end of it.
I therefore decided to start the appeal to fix the garden by first calling my council. Dead end there, but then I extended to charities, local services, disability gardening sites and so on. There's not much out there, but there's a bit. However, what I was always rather shocked about was how few children's charities would do anything for gardening - as a matter of fact, I found only one.
Why is that? If quality of life is the whole point of giving to a charity, then why is gardening so low on the list? Why is making a garden accessible for those who may not be able to get out of their homes and access public things so difficult? I keep hearing the words "inclusion" brought up, but I have to be honest here - there is a time for inclusion, and then there is a time when you want your own safe space. And I want the garden to be that space for my son.
And so, therefore, here comes this blog...I'll try to document progress to see how we go, and I hope I might be able to drum up some advocacy for others in the same situation as well as point people in the right direction.
If you find yourself a prisoner in your own home...gild the cage.