Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Being in nature is theraputic

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Most of you know my son has Autism. We have done alot of different traditional therapies with him--ABA based social skills classes, anger classes, 1:1 therapy, occupational therapy, etc. But one of the most theraputic things for him isn't found in a therapy setting at all. It's found out of doors.

Little Bean loves wide open spaces. At the park, he doesn't gravitate to the swings and slides like most kids. He moves to the perimeter of the playground and he discovers and explores and he collects. He could spend hours and hours and hours doing that just at the local park. And it is therapy to him.

He becomes this different person, who is free from anxiety, who is brave and unfettered, who is kind and social, and relaxed.

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So on the morning of his sixth birthday, we took a road trip. It was a three hour trip up from Oklahoma City to a wonderful animal reserve called Wichita Mountains. Wichita Mountains is a nearly 60 acre piece of land that is a refuge for large native grazing animals such as the American bison, rocky mountain Elk, deer, and Texas long horn cattle. There are also plenty of birds, lizards and prairie dogs there.

We started out in the amazing nature center, which had tons of displays and a short film on why a refuge was needed for the buffalo and the Texas long horn. We learned that when a buffalo is injured, (say by gunfire), all the others in the herd gather round him. This made buffalos an easy target, and hunters would kill them one right after the other in this way until they were virtually extinct.

The kids were able to learn about the different species who were introduced to the refuge, and which ones failed to thrive there.

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Then we set off to explore the refuge ourselves. You can go through in the car or by foot, or even both, and either way you do it, you will see free range cattle and buffalo grazing sometimes as close as 3 or 4 feet from you. It's seemed the cattle were a little less shy. We got very close to those, but only saw bufalo from a distance.

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We saw many tracks, giant lizards, turkey vultures in the trees, and lots of prarie dogs. It was an amazing day for us all, but we especially enjoyed watching Little Bean as he enjoyed himself in his element. There's nothing like the unrestrained joy of a child that you love.

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1 comment:

Angela said...

that's so wonderful. Christopher loves nature as well. I always tell my husband we need to live on a farm with LOT's of land. I bet He had so much fun. The lizard pic is amazing.

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