Children with Autism in Wild Nature: Exploring Australian Parent Perceptions Using Photovoice

Abstract

Access to wild nature may be beneficial for human health and well-being (Gill 2014). Time in wild nature has been found to have unique benefits for children with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC), although research on access to wild nature for children with ASC is scarce (Blakesley et al. 2013). Parents of children with ASC have unique insights into their children’s lives (Harte 2009). Using a qualitative method this small scale study included three parents of children with ASC aged between five and 10 recruited from an Australian online support group. Data were collected using the participatory method of Photovoice. Parents took photographs of their children in wild nature, with their children’s assent, and shared their perspectives with the other parent participants. Interviews with individual participants were conducted using Facebook private messaging. Data were analysed with participation from the parents using thematic analysis. The three parents reported that time in wild nature supported their children’s deep interests, helped them adapt to change, supported their creative and imaginative play, and calmed them. Reported barriers included being too busy with therapy appointments, balancing the needs of siblings with ASC, sensory challenges, and the exhaustion of daily life. Parents also reported that the Photovoice methodology helped them gain insight into their own perspectives. This small scale study adds some support to the research around wild nature and children with ASC, and speaks to the benefits of the Photovoice approach.

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Acknowledgments

This study was undertaken as part of the Charles Sturt University Master of Education program. The authors acknowledge the support of the staff and fellow students in the program.

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Correspondence to Carolyn Galbraith.

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Galbraith, C., Lancaster, J. Children with Autism in Wild Nature: Exploring Australian Parent Perceptions Using Photovoice. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42322-020-00064-5

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • Children with autism
  • Wild nature
  • Photovoice
  • Parents
  • Facebook