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Autism & SEN Groups

Forest School for ASC

A key principle of forest school is the importance of child-led learning. The freedom of the forest  offers unstructured opportunities to play and develop through a supported and exploratory approach.

Our outdoor Forest School environment provides sensory interactions that enable sensory stimulation that is all natural, moving at a seasonal rhythm, with peacefulness and mindfulness. This develops healthy physical, social and emotional development and encourages communication, confidence building and strengthening their emotional control, which improves self-awareness and well being.

Research has demonstrated that autistic children who have interactions with animals have more focused attention, social interaction, positive emotion and speech (O’Haire, 2013). This has led researchers to focus on the benefits of the outdoors more generally and we are seeing that nature is relevant for children with special educational needs (SEN)


About our Sessions

Our sessions are planned around the four key areas of difference:
  • Interacting
  • Sensory Processing
  • Processing Information
  • Communication
Our aim at Inside Out is for nature to nurture every child and our forest school experience is accessible to everyone. We build familiarity, flexibility, understanding and co-operation into our sessions to help decrease autistic sensitivity and barriers to interaction. 

“While we see the forest, a person with ASD will see every single leaf on every single branch on every single tree in the forest” Paul Fijal.

Woodland Whisperers... a peaceful, natural environment to nurture your child in outdoor learning

The great outdoors engages every one of the senses by exposing them to rich sources of stimuli. So how can a heightened sensory experience actually achieve a calming and therapeutic result?

Outside there is freedom and space. Nature moves slowly, transitioning from sunrise to sunset and from one season to another by a natural rhythm that activates the brain to make important sensory distinctions, rather than causing overwhelm which can trigger a retreat to survival instinct and stunt brain activity.

We want everyone to be able to access outdoor learning through our events and workshops so we aim to ensure that nature can nurture each child. Inside Out Forest school works with the seven senses – touch, taste, sound, smell, sight, proprioception (awareness of the position and movements of the body) and vestibular sensation (your balance and movement in relation t the space around you). It is this vestibular sense that is intrinsic to our physical and emotional well being and can be nurtured and developed most effectively through the basic principles of forest school.

How Forest School can boost your senses?

Through a range of activities that focus on developing;
  • balance
  • co-ordination and fine motor skills
  • supports language development
  • aids independence and self-care 
  • encourages self-regulation

It’s often harder for children with Autism Spectrum Condition to process everyday information as their senses may be over-active or under-active or both. Running around the forest, climbing trees, jumping onto stepping stones, and even swinging in hammocks helps to regulate the stress hormone Cortisol to reduce anxiety and fear and result in a positive experience.

Our skilled Inside Out facilitators hold specialist qualifications in working with ASC and can work to support your family by welcoming you to a calm and safe experience and offering activities in collecting, categorising, systematising and repetition.  Through careful observation we can work with your child to respond to stimuli, offer choice and encourage inclusiveness. There is always a quiet space to be found, a cosy nook, or a peaceful clearing for children to just be themselves and listen to the calming whispers of the trees.

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