Insights from conversations during our gardening gatherings have taken us through some very diverse activities over the past year. Sometimes these have seen us confront challenges head-on together, such as the time we raised funds by packing bags in a supermarket (not a favourite place for any one of us but the reciprocal support and outcome was a shared achievement). One recurring topic has been the life adjustments that often need to be made, particularly just after (late) diagnosis of an autistic spectrum condition. Our gatherings can deliver the information necessary to ease the journey through what is generally found to be a moment of relief followed by overwhelming sensations as life is reflected upon and anticipated.
The fact is you remain the person you’ve always been but have new information with which to guide future decisions that can lead to more fulfillment and less angst than might have been the case. Our trust in the natural environment to provide the restorative setting and in the peer support for individuals to work through their own thoughts in their own time and way, is proving to be a winning, if simple formula. But adjustments and change at these times are faced similarly by those around us. Change can be a challenge for anyone – even when its useful and a change for the better. Official sources of information may not always provide the answers you need.
So, while we remain a peer-led group for autistic adults seeking to establish better balance and direction in their own lives, using nature, gardening and a host of other cultural adventures and experiments, we recognise the changes and adjustments being made by those around us. Now, within our group we defend the right for each member to hold their own opinion without imposing it onto anyone else – you might call that our zero tolerance rule – the space has to be free from domination of any sort so each finds their own path in peace. We now look at how our spaces can deliver the fullest value not just for our members but – at different times – for friends and family, similarly in need of venting off, asking questions and sharing experiences.
As our membership has grown significantly, we will keep our sessions available to small groups but that still means our beautiful, restorative, open spaces keep on providing benefits which can be used by others in the mix of planet autism – so it makes sense to sow our seeds of success as wide as possible…
Early steps have been taken to establish our Partners and Family sessions with the hope that the sharing and caring we experience may become available to those around us, too and possibly a more harmonious home life for all…
The inspirational Barbara from Kennyhill, opened our eyes to the need for facilities for the many home schoolers in our area, by initiating a plan to offer gardening space to help meet this need and we’re hugely grateful to site manager, Sandy for supporting our goal to extend this facility alongside our existing spaces at our Bellahouston site. So, the result is we will soon have an additional four, large raised beds renovated and made available for parents home schooling their autistic children – and maybe a few more besides to help develop that social interaction we often seek (then run away from!).
This is all good. Nevertheless it’s a lot to occupy my little mind and it’s necessary to avoid being overwhelmed – accommodating my particular autistic needs. What better way to focus on something different, while remaining true to our faith in the restorative powers of the natural environment, than by taking out my bike, blowing away the dust and heading out along the riverside and canal paths so close by?
It worked a treat. With many thanks again to Colin from Free Wheel North at the White House, for leading our tour, we saw familiar Glasgow sites from new perspectives, took in the sunshine (yes – sunshine!) and felt spirits lifting in minutes as the freedom took over, providing instant relief from life. So we plan our autism friendly cycling runs to take place on a fortnightly basis for all on the spectrum or anywhere in the mix to enjoy a bit of relief, exercise and open air with a friendly group.
So check out our pages for updates and news and join in the fun and experience the best of human nature to make life better for yourself – while the experts figure out what to tell us, we’ll just get on with it together, eh?