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Nature's Playground

“Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.” ~Loren Eiseley

This last week in Florida spent in the sun and the sea and the water has me thinking. In fact, this whole summer has had me thinking about the child with autism and the natural world. My latest idea with Adventure Club and getting children with autism and their families doing activities outside has left me with a renewed sense of what nature provides everyone, even those of us who might see the world a little bit differently. The world of dirt, bugs, leaves, wind and water has awakened some intrinsic piece of my conscience. Something that once awakened continues to exert a gravitational force upon you—day in and day out begging to be heard.

I’ve come to see that the clinic cannot hold a candle to that of nature’s playground. Therapy and gadgets and all the equipment in the world pales in comparison to that which is provided by Mother Nature. All the body socks and swings and Theratogs are found lacking and wanting next to the allure of the sea. The rhythmic push and pull of the waves as they crash into the joints and tendons and muscles cannot be achieved through joint compression and weighted vests. There truly is no greater proprioceptive activity than standing amidst the tide. There is no greater tactile activity than walking along the beach bombarded with sand and sea, toes sinking and embraced by the shore. The calming effect of the rhythmicity of an oceanic symphony cannot be replicated by anything in today’s wide array of technological gadgets. Wind and water, cling to the skin and calm the mind in a way that sensory equipment cannot hope to replicate.

Today we expect to recreate the natural world in spandex and swings and boxes filled with gadgets and bean bags. Yet these things will never be connected to us in ways that the natural world is. As a child, I spent the majority of my time outside on the back of a horse. When I was younger I was surrounded by fields and animals and covered in dirt from head to toe. Much like my youngest child, I was outside from the time I got up till the time I went to bed. The outside called to me as it calls to my youngest child—with the allure of the sweetest siren song. To torture him, is to keep him bound within these walls of home. His home is out there, amongst the trees and under the wide, blue sky—not here in the safety of the living room. His cathedral is not a church building but the wide open spaces of the world.

This past week I’ve seen a change in Ewan—he has tuned in to that which his brother has heard all along. He became the child who needed to be outside more often than he needed the security of the bedroom and the Wii or the iPod. He became the child who relaxed into the liquid caress of the pool as he floated effortlessly from one end to the other. He found himself interconnected in a wider world, to find something far more substantial than the gadgets and things he so often obsesses over. I am convinced more than ever after this summer that our children long for something more, something greater than what can be found in any catalog or dispensed in any 60 minute session. The more we push these children towards hours and days fixed behind a table or a desk, the more they push back—the more they require to simply make it through the day. We seek to create synthetic replicas of what exists naturally right outside the door. Stop rushing from therapy to therapy, day after day, year after year and instead, find your inner Transcendentalist.

“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” ~Henry David Thoreau

"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear the coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me - I am happy.” ~Hamlin Garland

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” ~John Burroughs
 

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Mother nature works in mysterious ways and that is why when we have problems, let yourself be with nature and listen to what it says like the wind, the water, the trees, the chirping of the birds and etc.

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Well, sometimes it’s just too darned cold to go outside and play in the snow.192.168.1.1