It’s common knowledge that spending time out of the house can benefit our physical and mental health. But while a brisk walk in the park is always a great idea, nothing quite beats a visit to the countryside and immersing yourself in nature. There have been some studies specifically looking into the benefits of nature for people with autism, and the results have been encouraging. Here are some of the reasons why autistic people might enjoy time in the great outdoors. Download the PDF Improving wellbeing Whether we have ASD or not, time outdoors can do wonders for our wellbeing. Even just looking at pictures of nature has been shown to instantly reduce feelings of stress. Time in green spaces is also known to: Make us more physically fit Improve our self confidence Help us meet new people and make friends Encourage us to try new things and learn new skills Reduce feelings of loneliness Activities may need to be adapted for each person’s specific needs, and make sure to encourage them once they find something they enjoy doing outdoors. A source of interests Nature is a fascinating thing, and by spending time in and around it, autistic people can develop an interest in wildlife, plants and exploration. Birds are a common example, and for many, birdwatching has become a lifelong hobby. Learning new skills There are countless things we can only do outside the house, so by engaging in activities like cycling, sailing and orienteering, autistic people can learn a whole range of new skills. Many professional activity companies are more than happy to cater for autistic individuals, with staff specially trained to help them feel at ease and garner a sense of achievement. These kinds of activities usually mean low-pressure socialising too, which can help autistic people be more confident around others. Unique sensory experiences Speaking of things we can only do outside the house, plenty of sensory experiences are also exclusive to the outdoors. There are so many sounds, smells, colours and textures when we step outside, and while it’s understandable to be concerned about sensory overload, this can be mitigated by setting expectations and reassuring the person that they’re in control. By spending time in nature, autistic people can get a sense for what they do and don’t like, and may find specific settings, such as woodland areas, that they feel particularly comfortable in. Download the PDF Helping autistic and non-verbal children to interact with the world around them Spending time outdoors is undeniably beneficial, but without the means to communicate, autistic and non-verbal children can’t get the most out of the experience. To help, we developed app2vox: a completely free app packed with useful tools like text-to-speech, phrase building and intuitive icons. Take a look at more info on how the app works, or register your interest for updates on our progress. If you’d like to carry on reading, we also have more helpful resources for parents and carers, such as tips on understanding meltdowns and simple communication strategies. Other Resources 3 Reasons why cats make good companions Animals can do wonders for our mental health and wellbeing, but cats in particular make great companions for autistic children. Here are three reasons why. 5 autistic-friendly holiday destinations Holidays help autistic individuals experience new things and develop crucial life skills. These are five highly recommended autism-friendly holiday destinations. Beating the winter blues: Tips for people with autism Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known as SAD) can take a heavy toll on our mental health in winter. Read our tips on managing autism and the winter blues.