When Auticulture Network was formed, last year, it had already taken the bigger part of a year to convince anyone to let us have space. Then began the process of simply having spaces for autistic adults to enjoy the benefits from sharing access to the natural environment with an empathetic group. It has spawned some interesting experiments and projects – news of which will become more of a feature, as we work together to share the tasks of building our group.
During this time, members have enjoyed knowing there’s a place to go when life is becoming overwhelming: either to take in the sounds of nature and breathe in the refreshment of peaceful relaxation or to ‘work it off’ with a good digging session. It’s a personal thing and a personally-driven thing.
Our collaborations have been many and varied, revealing new avenues of interest and previously untapped talents within our group – and it’s fun. These have been opportunities to try something a little different and engage socially in a way that might otherwise be daunting or simply not happen.
So the group has developed its own style and character to fit the needs of our members. Being self-directed and with a simple remit of providing space to be your autistic self while enjoying the restorative forces of nature, suits a good number of us and I like the thought of even more independent groups fulfilling their own goals for their own crowd – without competition or a need to dominate the landscape of autism – each to their own with scope to be mutually supportive as members’ needs and interests cross over.
We have simple goals. We share our experiences, we share our skills, we share our autism and our growth together and as individuals – in our own time and our own way – and it’s working, slowly but very surely. We allow each other the space and peace we all have a need for and work together when we need the interaction. We’re each our own boss and our place in the group respects that need within the others.
The support we’ve had, along the way has been phenomenal, heart-warming and not at all from the most obvious sources. It’s interesting what people ‘get’ when they encounter our group and the personal reflections and experiences that influence their enthusiasm to support our goals. It’s the best of human nature, for which we’ll always be grateful. Ideas abound, so watch this space! Meanwhile, we’ve a lot of gardening to do…