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Permaculture and Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and Asperger's  RSS feed

 
Matu Collins
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I've been thinking about this topic for a while and it came up in this thread about permaculture and disabilities. I think it deserves its own thread.

Here's what I wrote there
My stepson is on the autism spectrum and the design of the world in general and school in particular is sorely lacking for his needs. I have a dream, shared by some other parents I know, of a farm based outdoor classroom specifically designed for people/children on the autism spectrum.
Currently they get lumped in with other disabilities which is really not ideal. Autistic people have a different set of special needs.

Some of the things that I envision in my design are balance beam/obstacle course type areas. Repetitive motion is soothing. Exposure to lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is an important part of the design of course, ASD usually includes different types of mental rigidity and food is a common area for rigidity.

People with autism spectrum disorder have to learn social skills with a lot of effort, they don't just absorb them as most people do so social interaction can be exhausting. Particularly eye contact. Yet, they can end up lonely and isolated because their need for social interaction is normal, just not their skills. So another design idea I have is creating visual blockages with plant/tree guilds around activity areas like the obstacle courses/balance beams. This would spare them the eye contact and give a chance to relax, and perhaps speak to others without eye contact. ASD often cooccurs with anxiety, and lessening anxiety leads tomuch more of the individual's energy being available for learning.

I have lots of ideas, this is just a beginning.


I feel strongly that ASD is a disorder in some ways (mainly difficulty reading social cues and discomfort with change) but also has wonderful characteristics. A person on the spectrum can be a very valuable part of a community. For example, some of the characteristics are a strong sense of ethics and distinctive honesty as well as above average intelligence and the ability to focus on an interesting topic for a long time.

I envision a world where ASD people are understood and accepted with all their quirkiness and their potential contributions to society are realized. Farm-based/permaculture designed habitat is good for humans of all kinds and this is an area where design can really shine. I have given a few examples of ideas. I'm very interested if anyone else has ideas in general about details of good design for ASD in general and also specifically for a therapeutic outdoor classroom.

Zone 1 is essential, of course.

Observation is really important, as in everything else.


 
David Livingston
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As a musician I have worked with many people with some degree of autism and view the issue of one that is very common yet people have a great deal of trouble accepting . Its like they could catch it!
Those with such a condition would be welcome at m'y place

David
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Matu - one of the projects that a group of us did here in Phoenix was work with Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center to build out an outdoor classroom for their GardenWorks program. This is a program that trains ASD adults who have aged out of the school system to install and maintain sustainable landscapes in the Phoenix area. They also have a large herb and veggie garden and several fruit trees. The herbs and veggies are used in their CulinaryWorks program (they make boutique soup and sell it at area farmer's markets and other locations) and the fruit is used for events at the facility. It was a cool project but it has yet to reach it's full potential - it takes time. People love working in the space though. It seems both soothing and engaging to the clients.

Our group also did a project for Horses Help - an equine therapy non-profit that works with ASD kids and adults as well as with vet with PSD, etc. Again we installed veggie beds designed specifically for those in wheelchairs, planted tons of fruit trees and installed a huge water harvesting cistern to capture water off the horse stalls so it could be used in the garden. The produce is shared amongst the participants in the various programs. Again, the various colors, shapes and SCENTS really seemed to appeal to people and helpers noticed less stress/anxiety and more engagement.
 
Burra Maluca
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I've never been diagnosed, and I always thought I was just a weirdo geeky hermit with too much imagination and man hands. And then a few months ago I did one of those on-line diagnostic tests and scored really high. And then I got my son to do it and he scored even higher. I tried various tests and consistently get really high scores, but I don't see how I can get an official diagnosis or even what benefit it would be for me to get one, so I'm going remain 'self-diagnosed'.

I found this list of female asperger traits and it was like a near complete list of my little idiosyncrasies.

some of the characteristics are a strong sense of ethics and distinctive honesty as well as above average intelligence and the ability to focus on an interesting topic for a long time.


And maybe that explains why I hang out on permies so much...
 
J D Horn
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Y'all probably know about Temple Grandin, but I'll post this anyway.


 
R Scott
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I have had several foster kids with their own places on the spectrum.

General observations:
Farms are very therapeutic for most boys.
EXTREME vigilance is required with children and any animal, but especially ASD children. Things can go sideways really fast, regardless of the animal size.
Some kids need what they feel is a "safe" place to start, but eventually they need to feel adventure. You need to supply the feeling of danger that isn't really life threatening.
Like Permaculture planting, you never know who is going to be interested in what where--so try a little bit of everything and keep the stuff that works.
 
Jami McBride
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I have ASD children, my son is more of the extreme. And this is why I envisioned retiring out on land so I my children could have a life that better moves at their pace and stress level.

At our permaculture city home my son would take a patio chair into our chicken house and sit for hours taking with the girls. He really enjoyed communing with nature.

So now we are out on our own land, and I'm looking forward to make him some special outdoor places so this post is timely. At the city house he had a swing, hammock, rabbit inclosure, chicken house & pen and free range ducks, dog and cats for his enjoyment. But an obstacle course sounds awesome!

Great idea....
 
Johnny Niamert
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Burra Maluca wrote:I've never been diagnosed, and I always thought I was just a weirdo geeky hermit with too much imagination and man hands. And then a few months ago I did one of those on-line diagnostic tests and scored really high. And then I got my son to do it and he scored even higher. I tried various tests and consistently get really high scores, but I don't see how I can get an official diagnosis or even what benefit it would be for me to get one, so I'm going remain 'self-diagnosed'.


Yeah. I've done a few of those tests and always score in the 'probably have ASD' category.

What's the point of getting 'diagnosed'. It's just another classification system to divide humans. I've stopped trying to fit in.
 
Brian Jeffrey
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My little (19 lol) brother has Asperger's. He's in a post high school program right now that teaches the basics of living on your own. Money management, cooking, clothes washing, the usual. And the not so usual like why you don't invite homeless people to live in your house, or why you don't touch other people in public usually.

I hope they teach gardening in his class, but I have not heard it from him. Permaculture gardening with its ethics and good values would naturally lend itself to the autistic sensibilities, like the Bronie sub-cultures belief in the bonds of friendship and helping each other. More examples like your idea are sorely needed to show the "system" how to help/deal with these kids.

On a lighter note, if you could develop a plant that produces plain pasta with butter and NO BITS OF ANYTHING ELSE. . . the Asperger's people of the world will worship you.
 
leila hamaya
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i like to use the terms neurodiversity, as well "differently-abled" as opposed to considering that people who are neurodivergent are "disabled". its not because it sounds better, i think it is truly more accurate, as most "gifted" people would fall into these various (misunderstood, imo) categories. i can relate, i am definitely neurodivergent.

i was always considered "gifted", and scored extremely high on various tests, IQ and the like....being branded "gifted" at an early age at that time meant one could not also be "disabled", and vice versa.....though in truth theres a lot of overlap....and the unspoken assumptions of giftedness and high IQ people were generally that these were all positive things, and gifted people were somehow automatically aligned with success, goodness, etc...which is completely off the mark.

many high IQ people are actually deeply troubled, and/or deeply sensitive, and many oddly have learning "disabilities" (or rather different learning styles) which go unrecognized due to them being considered "gifted". many children who are branded instead "disabled" are actually highly gifted, but when that label sticks to them they may not ever realize it.
at least when i was young they werent yet handing out strong psychoactive drugs to children!!!
or treating neurodiversity as a pathological condition, which i feel strongly it is NOT. different does not mean WRONG !

i feel there is a tremendous amount of misunderstanding about these (supposed) disabilities, and in general psychology has a LONG way to go to truly begin to understand the mind. most psychology strikes me as being extremely damaging way of viewing people and the world. not being well adjusted to a sick society, not being able to get along with all the insanity of the "normal" world, seems to me to be very healthy =)

i am interested in, and think you all might enjoy some exploration of, Dabrowski's theory of positive disintegration...and appreciate especially his term "positive maladjustment" which i would think many permaculture type people would fit into....
googles some links, though am not finding some simple summarized...ahh this is something you all might futher explore as his work has finally been catching on and theres a lot out there to read about his excellent work

http://talentdevelop.com/Dabrowski.html

http://talentdevelop.com/articles/DTOPD.html

he also showed that there were biological differences, an over sensitized central nervous system with greater response to sensual stimulation

http://talentdevelop.com/articles/OIGC.html
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
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Brian Jeffrey wrote:
I hope they teach gardening in his class, but I have not heard it from him. Permaculture gardening with its ethics and good values would naturally lend itself to the autistic sensibilities, like the Bronie sub-cultures belief in the bonds of friendship and helping each other. More examples like your idea are sorely needed to show the "system" how to help/deal with these kids.

On a lighter note, if you could develop a plant that produces plain pasta with butter and NO BITS OF ANYTHING ELSE. . . the Asperger's people of the world will worship you.


Aha! Permaculture has so much to offer people on the spectrum. The characteristic of being change-averse can be related to the trait of being extra sensitive. Many people are very sensitive to sound, some to light, some to texture, some to flavor. This sensitivity can lead to avoidance of stimulus or to sensory seeking. Many people are extremely choosy about food because of sensitivity. I have a hunch that being involved in a farm where fresh leafy food is grown and animals eat fresh leaves can give a chance for the intellect and love of animals (another common ASD trait) to take over. From "See, the chickens are happy to get to the new paddock because they love to eat the fresh new salad. They like that because it makes them feel healthy" to "Which fresh green salad leaf do you like best?"

It may take a long time and even after much work it will not be easy to get every kid or adult on the spectrum to eat lots of variously textured and flavored vegetables, but I am firmly convinced that this will have more success than slop on a plastic tray in a noisy socially confusing lunchroom full of sound, light, smells, and unfamiliar textures/flavors.

Kids on the autism spectrum have so much to offer and there are so many of them.

This might be an area to really get some "scientific permaculture results"
As in, can we teach kids with Aspergers more with good health as a result in a permaculture environment than they can in a giant middle school? What is the cost difference? Can they incorporate our designs into school environments and duplicate our results?

On a lighter note- many autistic kids like dinosaurs. Chickens are like little dinosaurs. Poultry therapy! Better than pills!
 
Dayna Williams
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I don't want this to be taken the wrong way, so please hear me out...it is something I have been thinking of for a long time, and this seemed like a good place to mention it.

I absolutely agree that ASD can be an incredible gift, and is not a "problem" to be "fixed," so if I use words like "healing," please don't be offended or think I want to "cure" ASD.

Also, I have heard about many children who are on the spectrum who have been able to become much more comfortable and at ease, able to cope better because of changes in diet. I discovered Permaculture around the same time I discovered gut-healing diets, such as GAPS and various permutations of paleo/dairy-free/grain-free. The basis of these diets is that gut dsybiosis (when the "bad" bacteria in the gut take over and the "good" bacteria die or are too outnumbered to properly seal the gut) can cause undigested food particles to enter the blood stream, causing a slew of problems, from Autism to Fibromyalgia to MS and other auto-immune diseases. So if the gut is resealed by encouraging the growth of the "good" bacteria, the food particles can no longer enter the blood stream, and chronic conditions can be vastly improved, sometimes with symptoms completely reversing. I have heard the most incredible stories of children on the spectrum suddenly being able to function happily with peers because the have been on such gut-sealing diets. However, in people with extreme gut dysbiosis, there is a fear that the "good" bacteria are gone forever, and that total healing can never occur.

About the same time I started learning about gut-healing (and applying it to my own diets, with impressive results), I also read gaia's garden for the first time. I believe in the account about an island farm in the Pacific Northwest, Hemenway mentions that species of insects, birds, and other wildlife that had not been seen in the area for decades began to reappear once conditions were favorable for them.

So I thought, if so much of our health is dependent upon the health of our intestinal bacteria, and if we are concerned that some of our critical good bacteria in our guts might be killed off (through bad diet/overuse of antibiotics), wouldn't we desperately try to access beneficial bacteria? And where in the world would beneficial bacteria be more likely to appear than on a healthy Permaculture farm?

We are probably all aware of the studies done that show kids who grew up on working farms having drastically lower incidences of chronic disease. For any protective benefit to occur, the children had to be in contact with the soil, or in contact with animals, regularly. Mainstream medical professionals theorize that the studies show that the kids immune systems somehow "got more practice" dealing with bacteria/fungi as children, so they are less likely to go wonky later on. But isn't it far more likely that the children's bodies were just well-populated with beneficial bacteria, which then protected them throughout their lives?

So, as chronic, inflammatory, and auto-immune disease rates completely skyrocket in this country (and as moms increasingly sterilize every surface in their homes), wouldn't a Permaculture farm be the ideal place for anyone dealing with any of these leaky-gut type diseases?

Again, I don't want to say that ASD is a "disease," or that it is necessarily pathological in nature - I think we are all somewhere on the "spectrum," and only the ASD segment of the larger "spectrum" gets any attention (I am quite sure i am only a hair's breadth from the spectrum but was luckily raised with the label of "gifted" instead).

But could this be a viable component of permaculture - for children on the spectrum, or for anyone who needs some good bacteria in their systems, who live in the city, or in antiseptic homes, to be able to spend time at "good bacteria camp?"

 
Johnny Niamert
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I agree, Dayna. I got into a similar topic here

There are scientific studies that are starting to study this.

Sutterella sequences represented ~1 to 7% of the total bacterial sequences, and this is a very large effect size on the ileal mucosal composition of the autism phenotype, rivaling or perhaps exceeding the effect size of the ileal Crohn's disease phenotype. This study opens a new field of investigation to study the etiology or consequences of GI comorbidities in ASD.
http://mbio.asm.org/content/3/1/e00019-12.full

 
Jen Shrock
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I found this list of female asperger traits and it was like a near complete list of my little idiosyncrasies.


I read through the list and I strongly associate with about half of it. I am not sure what that means.
 
Matu Collins
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We have a couple of cool obstacle courses. The biggest one is from after Superstorm Sandy. My neighbor had some big trees down and he took even more down. I got two big dumptrucksfull of woodchips and the foreman fellow asked if I wanted "some wood"

It was a huge pile of huge trees! We pushed em around until they felt stable. We didn't plan this one but it's awesome. The nearby delicious raspberries grow up through them. I cut them back where they scratch and it's working out nicely.


 
Dale Hodgins
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My oldest brother is a high functioning autistic. He has a "Rain Man" memory. His blatant honesty has got him into trouble a few times. There is no minute detail that he learns about someone that he will keep secret. " I saw Tim looking at pornography on the computer", "I burnt down the old house in the field because Cliff Rob told me he was going to burn it down some day", "Dad told mom, shut up nobody listens anyway", "Ronnie stole stuff from my room. Somebody should shoot Ronnie", " I saw Cathy(an old neighbor) dancing naked at the Welland House(a strip bar)" These are just a few of the things that my brother told me on my last visit. The subjects can be quite random. You're expected to listen and respond.
 
Burra Maluca
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Johnny Niamert wrote:
What's the point of getting 'diagnosed'. It's just another classification system to divide humans. I've stopped trying to fit in.


Well I've long since stopped trying to fit in, but I feel there might be some benefits of being diagnosed, if only to force me to accept that other people have been in this space and might well have found solutions to problems that I've been hiding from for too long. If those solutions are out there, I really ought to learn what I can about them before I fail to provide known solutions to my son.

For instance, I have never, ever been able to hold down a job. I hate money and am severely allergic to being told what to do. And I will usually walk out of a job within days. Paul knows this to his cost after trying valiantly to get me to be his paid assistant. It just doesn't work when I feel I have to do something. I end up doing nothing. I've never sorted this problem out and I've no idea if there are solutions and how to help my son with this if he turns out to be the same.

Temple Grandin talked about autistic kids needing to be pushed to get them to achieve anything. And this is something I'd like to know more about as I've never really pushed myself and tend to give up on things part way - I have no drivers licence, no qualifications, though a gazillion half-done ones, a myriad unfinished projects. My son isn't as bad as me, but he's hit the same wall about his drivers licence and doesn't want to sit through all those compulsory lectures and feels scared of the responsibility of managing a huge hunk of iron on a public road (which is my fear too, though I don't believe I ever voiced it to him). Yet he drives a tractor and a back-hoe no problem. I feel I need to push him, my other half feels that it's wrong to push him. When I heard Temple Grandin's view I sat my son down and talked to him about it and he agreed that he'd probably be fine if I pushed and so I agreed to be the bossy momma and provide the push needed. It doesn't feel natural though.

Other stuff like the social interactions I have no clue about. I'm quite happy to be alone, and so is my son. We both seem to get on fine with other people when we do meet them, but don't feel the need to go out and force the issue of finding friends. We tried harder when he was younger, joining the scouts and such like, but we've let all that slip over the years. But if any friend ever lies to me, I tend to flip out and refuse to have anything to do with them ever again. I'd rather have no friends than fake-friends, which is how I see them after that.

Homeschooling was a no-brainer for us. He didn't fit the school mould, he was too advanced on some subjects and completely incapable of others. Maths was like breathing, art was a joke. My final attempt at getting him to draw a picture was to get him to close his eyes and imagine he was walking in a jungle, alone, listening to the sounds and watching the animals. When he had a really good mental image, I asked him to 'take a photograph' and draw it so I could see it. What he drew me was a plan view from the top, with coded symbols for the different trees, a blue line for the river, and a series of symbols delineating the paths the animals had taken when they ran away, which they all did when he took the photo as the flash had frightened them. At that point I gave up and stated him on technical drawing and computer graphics. Why fight it?

He's always needed a lot of outdoor time. His favourite place to read a book was up a tree. He would spend all day playing with his ducks given a chance. He will actually get high if he is given a job involving heavy manual labour, so long as it is a 'productive' job that he can see the sense in and feel as sense of achievement when he completes it. He has quite a precise mind and he became a qualified video-game tester at age 14. I was hoping it would put him off video games. It didn't, but it did give him a good incentive to study all the stuff required to really be in the video game industry.

He also has his mother's tendency to be scruffy and untidy, and I'm really not sure if I should worry about that or not. It works for me, and I'm inclined to let him find his own level.
 
Jami McBride
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Oh Burra, your story sounds so familiar to me as I've lived them with my children. I am so sorry for the struggles you've had to deal with.

I struggled back and forth on whether or not to have my daughter diagnosed. The 'system' seems to never offer any real help, and I've been through the wringer with my son and did not want to go for round 2.
However, I did get her diagnosed and was surprised that it did help a little for her to have her experiences validated. Naming a thing can give one some since of order and a type of peace.

The rest of this conversation I'll send in a PM or email.

And to all of us who live with and help others with personal challenges such as ASD, ADHD, OCD, etc. I want to say that you are unsung heroes IMO.

 
leila hamaya
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Burra Maluca wrote:
Johnny Niamert wrote:
What's the point of getting 'diagnosed'. It's just another classification system to divide humans. I've stopped trying to fit in.


Well I've long since stopped trying to fit in, but I feel there might be some benefits of being diagnosed, if only to force me to accept that other people have been in this space and might well have found solutions to problems that I've been hiding from for too long. If those solutions are out there, I really ought to learn what I can about them before I fail to provide known solutions to my son.

For instance, I have never, ever been able to hold down a job. I hate money and am severely allergic to being told what to do. And I will usually walk out of a job within days. Paul knows this to his cost after trying valiantly to get me to be his paid assistant. It just doesn't work when I feel I have to do something. I end up doing nothing. I've never sorted this problem out and I've no idea if there are solutions and how to help my son with this if he turns out to be the same.

.....
It works for me, and I'm inclined to let him find his own level.

i can relate to a lot of this....

i'm a bit hesitant to offer my advice, because in some ways i wouldnt recommend this to anyone, but i will do so anyway- i think people should wave their freak flags high and proud =)
just go with what feels good and right for you, encourage your child to do the same. the more i tune out other peoples expectations, assumptions, and perceptions the happier i feel, the more i go along with my own groove no matter how strange, or misunderstood and undervalued by others.... the more content and at peace i am. but there are CONSEQUENCES to this, thats the part i wouldnt recommend. i say its worth it, the freedom of really not caring what others want from you and just being what you want to be outweighs whatever gains or whatever you might get from playing the game and trying to be something youre not.

its also much easier when you are older and are not in the younger phases of self identifying and finding your place in your world, looking for tribe and belonging.

i think most of the problems associated with autism/aspergers, even many of the mild forms of mental illness, personality disorders and the like
(though again i think these are largely misunderstood, not to mention improperly diagnosed, and some are just descriptions of normal, natural states of being even if extreme ...and made pathological incorrectly)...but the problem is more about expecting individuals like this to conform and change to be more societally acceptable, and trying to opress and supress themselves to try to fit in.
for instance trying to be not as sensitive, intense, weird, etc...all things that society tends to supress.
rather than the actual autistic/asperger traits being problems, its more like trying to be normal, is the problem......trying to fit into roles and ways which are not natural for these kinds of neurodiverse people. its a square peg round hole kind of puzzle...given support to just be oneself as is, and accepted as is...encouraged to find ones own authentic way and gifts can be very empowering to someone with this orientation. then its like...the person can figure it out, without needing instruction and direction, something strong that can come from the core of the person, unfolding...theres nothing like the intensity and passion of someone in this general spectrum.... hyper focussed on doing what they truly love to do.

 
Zach Muller
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I have had a keen interest in all things neuro diversity for a while now and a few years back I participated in an online group of ASD males, most were older than forty and undiagnosed. The experience made me realize a lot of things about myself and others.



One of the things I thought of during that period was the idea that being closer to someone on the spectrum made it easier to communicate to some degree. I agree with Leila that the challenge of ASD is trying to fit into our civilization and culture, and deal with the feelings of isolation when connecting is not possible.

So when I apply this thinking to an overall permaculture society overhaul I see that these different perceptions from different areas of the spectrum are all valid and having them around is a way to maintain diversity within humanity. If the fabric of society were totally changed (with permaculture or other) then these groups of different types could possibly thrive and find their niche, find ways to connect to other groups, and fall into a working system of human groups. I don't know how useful broad images of the future are except to inspire us for the possibility.


 
leila hamaya
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Zach Muller wrote:

So when I apply this thinking to an overall permaculture society overhaul I see that these different perceptions from different areas of the spectrum are all valid and having them around is a way to maintain diversity within humanity. If the fabric of society were totally changed (with permaculture or other) then these groups of different types could possibly thrive and find their niche, find ways to connect to other groups, and fall into a working system of human groups. I don't know how useful broad images of the future are except to inspire us for the possibility.



totally- society, the world, is really missing out on the contributions types like this could be making if given the opportunities, group support and valued more for their peculiar ways.
it seems to be that theres no where for these types, and other different types of people, can plug in...like a totally incompatible plug, they just cant fit in with things as they are.
this is not just true of aspies and asd, but mild forms of (so called) mental illness, other types of neurodivergents, well actually a LOT of people are marginalized and undervalued, if not MOST people!
this is all very off, excluding and invalidating MOST people..because they do not fit within an overly narrow definition of normalcy. while i suppose it could be helpful to label and understand these differences, theres also a lot of weird that comes from labelling people with these types of things, and i think its all grossly misunderstood.

i suppose this is more directed at the "high functioning" types, people with the milder versions of this, theres a lot of different types that no one can lump this together too much. and many aspies have the kind of will, intelligence and drive to go ahead and carve themselves out a niche, make their own place to plug in that fits...but thats not always the case nor it is easy.

but we have to live here as is, so it probably doesnt help to call all this out, but it is sort of satisfying in a way...to me anyway.... to identify this, how most all people are made to feel not good enough, arent able to plug in and brings their gifts to the table. at least if we keep recognizing and understanding how this has gone so wrong, perhaps better ways will be developed, focussing on honoring diversity and the strength that brings.
i do have a great hope for the youngest generations, i feel a huge change coming...so maybe it is important to keep calling it out so that the younger folks can have the benefit of that....it is starting to seem like neurodivergent types of many kinds are actually becoming the majority! but maybe this isnt correct, idk. one thing seems for sure, the old ways, the old world that many take for granted as being just the way it is, is fading, collapsing under the weight of its own lack of integrity. new ways are needed....

anyway sorry if i am getting a bit off topic ish here, and ranting a bit, its certainly not like i am expert anyway.... and am rather a mild case i suppose...i dont neccessarily have all the classic stuff associated with this, but from what i have read this is common...not all asd or aspies have all the same classic "symptoms" at all, especially the milder types. like i instead got the "gifted" side of the label...and didnt really figure this out until i was older. i had come to think of myself as being "giftarded" like theres a point where you get so smart you get stupid =P more a continuum....and thats where i was at. having everyone make a big deal about me being such a brainiac, high IQ, and co incidentally kinda stupid about basic stuff...was even something of a joke with my family...like after doing a particular stupid thing or saying some off the wall thing, start jumping around incoherently in conversation with my brain going to fast to speak correctly...or whatever like that, difficulties with communicating...one of my family would say something like..."and they say youre a genuis huh?" which even i would laugh at because it was odd and funny like that. that was the running joke, that and the being replaced by an alien at birth joke my brother used to tell..... =)

but anywho
.....i do like the plan outlined in the OP.
apologies for ranting, these things are on my mind.
i will think on some ideas that are more on topic =)
 
M.K. Dorje Jr.
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Wow, this is an interesting discussion! I found out that I have a mild form of asperger's several years ago, and since then it has always been a great comfort for me to hear about other people with the same "problem". I really enjoyed the Temple Grandin video, she's a great speaker and writer. "Look Me in the Eye", by John Elder Robison, is an excellent book by another person with asperger's, I've heard that there is a new edition now written for young people. I wonder if anyone else out there has read anything by John Robison?
 
leila hamaya
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ok on topic now =)

the thing that stood out for me in the OP was creating "visual blockages", and the general idea of landscaping the area to be more comfortable for any person with sensory overload issues.
i think this is a fabulous idea, actually i am quite fascinated with this idea in general, fedges are one of my fascinations. like almost everywhere i go i sort of automatically register this sort of stuff and even vision how it could be so much better. its like a real feng shui, not just silly rules, more variable depending on the location....but something that one can feel, at least i can...when a place is landscaped in ways that put people at ease, or more commonly where the landscaping might look attractive but is laid out all wrong and it makes one feel weird and on edge. to me this is when its all too open, or to squarish. this obviously is very subjective, not like theres only one way, but visual blockages, and hedges are to me a key in why some spaces make one automatically more at ease....probably because of those sensory overload type issues, and how it can be comforting to be hiding out within a nice enclosed space of hedges/fedges/plants and whatever else.

there used to be a coffee shop in a town i lived in that had this down, and just because of their awesome outdoor space would i trudge way up the top of this huge hill where they were. the shop itself was really tiny , but they had some really well done landscaping out back. with maybe 8- 10 different seating areas, but every one of them was enclosed within its own little bubble of plants and this made it so that you didnt see any of the other areas. i could spend hours there, even bringing craftwork and projects to do there. its come back to me, that and other fedges/enclosed spaces that i have seen and felt were very comfortable. they also grew a lot of their herbs and such for the bakery/cafe/tea house. perhaps an asd/aspie had designed it =)
you could get lost in your own little world back there, while still be out and with other people (albeit at a nice distance =).

 
Bill Ramsey
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Ya'll have me thinking that I should also take a few tests. I knew that I felt at home here among permie types but now I'm thinking there's probably a bigger connection.
 
leila hamaya
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Bill Ramsey wrote:Ya'll have me thinking that I should also take a few tests. I knew that I felt at home here among permie types but now I'm thinking there's probably a bigger connection.


this is a pretty interesting one.

http://rdos.net/eng/Aspie-quiz.php

i recently retook some tests, and got even more extreme results than before....this time i had 150 something out of 200
this is for aspergers, but i think it had more autistic related segments too....

i would think this is way statistically higher among permies, maybe? or this among other related different things? ah idk, just a guess.
probably a lot of highly sensitive people anyway, neurodiversity.
 
Johnny Niamert
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I've always heard about the AQ test. I believe it was determined to be an effective screening tool for clinical applications.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aqtest.html

 
Matu Collins
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Another little idea is regarding the characteristic of really enjoying touching pleasant textures.

What about stacking the function of leaves that are pleasant to touch. The first ones that come to mind are velvetleaf and mullein. Like, when you get here before we start talking to you and expecting participation, you can go to your favorite plant and pick a leaf to pet. Can anyone think of nice plants to touch? I trying to think of one that has a very smooth feel that isn't sticky or greasy.

On the topic of "needing to be pushed" I think persistent help is important, but I don't like the word "pushing." I think for young children, a "therapeutic environment" is important, meaning that the people who surround the child should be aware of the childs needs and how to help them move toward the ability to fully thrive in adulthood, and the child's surrounding should not be very stressful. As people grow older, they can be taught skills and coping strategies to live a fulfilling life, and if life is fulfilling great! If they are lonely or lack satisfying employment (I don't mean a job, Burra! I just mean meaningful work that is fun and satisfying to focus on) that's another story. To be a Temple Grandin, probably a concerted effort would need to be applied early and often, but everyone doesn't need to be brilliant and famous. Satisfied is fine too.

I don't qualify for Asperger's or ASD, but I've had a doctor-type diagnosis of ADHD since childhood. Some people say that that is one end of the spectrum. I certainly relate to some of the traits. It seems like many of us do! Permaculture in general is very appealing to logic and reason loving people like me, and permies in particular with the no nonsense "be nice" policy is also very appealing.
 
Brian Jeffrey
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Matu Collins wrote:Another little idea is regarding the characteristic of really enjoying touching pleasant textures.

Can anyone think of nice plants to touch? I trying to think of one that has a very smooth feel that isn't sticky or greasy.


I used to love this deer moss patch back in Connecticut. It was a few inches thick, several square yards, and so spongy. Almost like a Tempurpedic, just softer. I would lie on it and stare up into the sky (day or night). Besides being soooo comfortable it was devoid of crawlies. I never once had even an ant walk across me, but I don't know if this is indicative of all deer moss patches or just this one.

Either way it could be like your leaf to rub, only so big you park their little butts on it. Running their hands over it as they sit, and if I know my Asperger'er's, when they need to lie down or otherwise "be weird" as my brother puts it.

 
Jen Shrock
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Lamb's Ear. So soft and fuzzy yet the leaf has some thickness and substance to it. Seems to me the plant has some uses, too.

I really like to experience the world through my senses...taking me back to a childlike awe of things.
 
Burra Maluca
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leila hamaya
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
that was pretty good.

got me hopping around on you tube, heres one that came up that i enjoyed.
the simple things he talks about here are pretty major for people with mild autism, though more about aspergers.
i think he articulates it pretty well with the "creeky door" metaphor

 
Valerie Poulin
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I'm glad to see that I was right. Permaculture is an appealing subject for autistic people. I think it is because it implies rational systemic thinking. The problem when you try to design for a group of autistic kids is that they are very very different one from the other. One idea would be to divide the garden in small areas with very different caracteristics to prevent sensory problems, so that everyone can choose the part of the garden where he feels comfortable. For example, big colorful flowers would drive me crazy and I would hate touching velvety leaves, but looking at the changing light on a patch of partly shaded moss would calm me down in a minute. I would feel more confortable in a garden where you can find here and there geometric arrangements like spirals, wavy lines or concentric design. But an other autistic person could prefer something else. I think that what you need Matu, is a diversity of design and what is even more important is to try to understand all those kids and to guide them wihtout stressing them.
 
Matu Collins
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Valerie Poulin wrote: I think that what you need Matu, is a diversity of design and what is even more important is to try to understand all those kids and to guide them wihtout stressing them.


I agree! It would have to be a very high ratio of caregivers to kids. Imagine if some of the adult caregivers were themselves on the spectrum? It could be therapeutic for everyone. My idea is to show that even with the cost of a garden and high caregiver ratio, a program like this could save money because of reduced use of hospitals and increased employability.

The visually isolated areas idea that I have sounds similar to what you are saying. It would be cool if people could examine the gardens and design one for themself.
 
Valerie Poulin
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I agree! It would have to be a very high ratio of caregivers to kids. Imagine if some of the adult caregivers were themselves on the spectrum? It could be therapeutic for everyone. My idea is to show that even with the cost of a garden and high caregiver ratio, a program like this could save money because of reduced use of hospitals and increased employability.


The visually isolated areas idea that I have sounds similar to what you are saying. It would be cool if people could examine the gardens and design one for themself.

I think it would be a very big mistake NOT to have adult caregivers on the spectrum. There's too much details that the neurotypical people can't really understand even though they are trying. I am currently working on the same ideas as yours and in my concept there is even more autistic caregivers than neurotypical social workers (most psychologists really can't get it so I kicked them out until they prove to me that they can make a good job ) I don't know if that kind of program would really save money on a short term, but it would certainely on a long term, because the kids can learn much faster, even social skills, when they are less anxious.

We have to be aware of the fact that this program would not be good for any autistic kids though. Some will never be able to work in a garden. I think insects moving all around is the biggest problem and there is a lot of those in a permaculture garden. I suppose that I have to accept that I can't help everyone, but I was thinking of adding workshops on the site where the kids could learn arts and mechanics. Anyway, in Quebec, you can work in the garden only from May to October, because there is one or two meters of snow on the top of it for half of the year. And I thought that adding sculptures, paintings and automata to the garden would be very nice and it could even attract tourists during the weekends. Tourists would be good to get a little bit more money, but what is more important is for the visitors to learn what is autism and what autistic people can do if you treat them well.

And if you have enough space to give a peice of garden to everyone, it would be great. The garden will look strange as everybody will have very different views on how the garden should be organized, but if you have visual barriere between the lots... It will be interesting.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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I posted this article awhile back and was wondering if anyone here had any thoughts - the article is a repost from a middle eastern "green" online group called "Green Prophet". It talks about the health effects of different kinds of pollution on our systems and does talk about links to ASD. Would love to hear people's thoughts.

http://www.permies.com/t/30837/toxin-ectomy/Health-effects-pollution-open-discussion
 
Matu Collins
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:I posted this article awhile back and was wondering if anyone here had any thoughts - the article is a repost from a middle eastern "green" online group called "Green Prophet". It talks about the health effects of different kinds of pollution on our systems and does talk about links to ASD. Would love to hear people's thoughts.

http://www.permies.com/t/30837/toxin-ectomy/Health-effects-pollution-open-discussion


I commented on the thread. It is an interesting and important topic, and let's keep the "causes of autism" discussion on that thread. I'm hoping this thread can address the solutions.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Matu Collins wrote:I commented on the thread. It is an interesting and important topic, and let's keep the "causes of autism" discussion on that thread. I'm hoping this thread can address the solutions.


I like that idea - thanks Matu!
 
Neil Layton
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I'm going to bump this thread after it came up when I posted on the singles thread.
http://www.permies.com/t/50938/singles/Male-Edinburgh-Scotland-seeks-soulmate

I'm a (formally diagnosed) adult aspie (please, folks - remember this does not just go away on your 18th birthday!) who has realised that a permaculture (better yet, from my perspective, forest garden) smallholding would perhaps be the ideal way to live within the limits of my neurotype while doing something constructive (and, in my case, using my obsessive special interest in natural history and ecosystems).

Those of you reading this thread may be familiar with the Intense World Theory of autism (which makes more sense to me, from someone having such a mind, than the alternative theories):
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-too-much/201407/kids-autism-live-in-intense-world
http://wrongplanet.net/interview-henry-and-kamila-markram-about-the-intense-world-theory-for-autism/

First, consider how living in a managed forest garden would enable an autie to manage environmental stimulation. This has already been talked about. There are also far fewer sources of the kind of fear that debilitates so many of us.

More importantly, however, the hyperconnected autie (especially aspie, although I suspect many conventional autistics/Kanner syndrome people might do better in such an environment) brain seems likely to be able to handle the interconnections in even a complex forest garden much better than an allistic brain. Guilds just seem so oversimplified to me - the only people who seem close to getting this are Jacke and Toensmeier. It's not just about multiple functions, but about the multiple ways those multiple functions interact.

I have seen so many blogs and videos of people making what, to me, are obvious mistakes because they just can't see the interconnections.

What I want is to set up my own forest garden to do this. I just need to find the right person to do it with (I doubt I'd do well in a big community, and I doubt most communities would do well with me). I do not, in my case, need a caregiver. I need a permanent partner.
 
Something must be done about this. Let's start by reading this tiny ad:
FT Position Available: Affiliate Manager Who Loves Permaculture & Homesteading
https://permies.com/t/69742/FT-Position-Affiliate-Manager-Loves
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