ASD Job Skills Training & Gardening Programs

In 2016, Wilmot Gardens accepted the opportunity to work with a small group of young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), utilizing gardening as the training vehicle. Subsequently, a small grant obtained from the Wal-Mart Foundation as part of their State Giving Program combined with a gift from Dr. and Mrs. B.J. Wilder made it possible to greatly expand this initiative.

All programs offered by Wilmot Gardens are based on the belief that an active connection with plants and nature can be a restorative experience and have a profound effect on each individual’s quality of the life. Sessions are designed to offer a supportive, active and engaging environment for participants to achieve learning objectives, while building confidence and developing interpersonal skills. All sessions are hosted at the greenhouse and conference center at Wilmot Gardens.

 

Job Skills Training Program

The principal goal of the Job Skills Training Program is to enhance the likelihood of young adults with ASD to secure full-time, paid employment that will eventually lead to a successful transition to independent living. Training sessions will be held in both greenhouse and classroom settings.

Sessions conducted in the completely accessible greenhouse are designed to foster basic workplace skills using gardening as the training vehicle. Soft skills and interpersonal skills. which are fundamental to increasing employment opportunities, will also be addressed. Activities based on plant propagation and cultivation are intended to enhance observational skills, decision-making abilities, self-motivation, self-efficacy and self-esteem. Coaching and peer interactions will aid in the improvement of personal coping skills and increased frustration tolerance through de-sensitization and exposure exercises, subsequently increasing self-awareness and the ability to self-evaluate accurately.

During the classroom sessions, participants will be exposed to computer-based vocational assessments, basic career search skills and electronic resume building. Instructor guided discussions amongst participants will reinforce the fundamental skills learned during greenhouse modules, while further exploring how to properly identify, evaluate, and solve problems that may arise in the workplace. Additionally, these sessions will address daily living skills such as personal hygiene, altered sleep patterns, self-soothing techniques, and the development of healthy eating habits.

For participants with the interest and capacity, specific job skills training will be offered based on the results of the vocational aptitude assessments. Staff will assist participants in the facilitation of paid internships and entry-level jobs. Subsequently, ongoing supported employment and career guidance will be provided.

Outdoor Gardening Program

The principal goal of the Outdoor Gardening Program is to offer respite for young adults with ASD, while simultaneously cultivating vocational, social and independent living skills in a supportive, active and engaging environment. Each session is comprised of three components: outdoor gardening, indoor gardening, and classroom discussion.

Sessions are designed to promote awareness of how food and ornamental plants are grown from greenhouse to garden to table. The program will introduce a wide range of plant growth and maintenance concepts. Hands-on tasks will expose participants to techniques for plant identification, propagation, cultivation and harvesting, as well as food and craft plant-based projects. Both short-term and long-term projects will be integrated into the program to allow participants to have immediate successes as well as plan for the future. Additional instruction will cover the importance of greenhouse and garden organization, maintenance and cleanliness. Sessions will conclude with classroom time to reinforce concepts and skills learned in each gardening module.

 

Spring 2018 ASD Programming Schedule

Programming will start the week beginning January 22nd, 2018 and will conclude the week ending May 11th, 2018.

NO SESSIONS: March 6-9, 2018 (Spring Break)

 Wednesday Thursday  Friday
 Gardening Group
Greenhouse Session
9:30 AM – 10:15 AM
Instructor: Leah Diehl
Location: Greenhouse
Gardening Group
Greenhouse Session
9:30 AM – 10:15 AM
Instructor: Leah Diehl
Location: Greenhouse
15 Minute Break
10:15 AM – 10:30 AM
Location: Greenhouse Foyer

 

 15 Minute Break
10:15 AM – 10:30 AM
Location: Greenhouse Foyer
Gardening Group
Outdoor Session
10:30 AM – 11:15 AM
Instructor: Erin Alvarez
Location: Raised Planter Bed
 
Gardening Group
Outdoor Session
10:30 AM – 11:15 AM
Instructor: Erin Alvarez
Location: Raised Planter Bed 
15 Minute Break
 11:15 AM – 11:30 AM
 Location: Conference Center
Job Skills Group
Classroom Session
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Instructor: Jenn Weis
Location: Conference Center 
15 Minute Break
11:15 AM – 11:30 AM
Location: Conference Center
Gardening Group
Classroom Session
11:30 AM – 12:15 PM
Instructor: Jenn Weis
Location: Conference Center
Job Skills Group
Greenhouse Session
12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Instructor: Leah Diehl
Location: Greenhouse
Gardening Group
Classroom Session
11:30 AM – 12:15 PM
Instructor: Jenn Weis
Location: Conference Center
 
Job Skills Group
FNGLA Tutoring
 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Instructor: Dr. Guy
Location: Conference Center 
 

Eligibility Requirements

  • Diagnosis of ASD or Related Disability
  • 15 + years old
  • Ability to attend minimum 75% of sessions

 

Program Cost

Costs vary by program. Contact us for a pricing details. Scholarship opportunities are available for qualified participants.

 

Program Contact

Jennifer Weis, M.S., C.P.C.
ASD Program Coordinator, Wilmot Gardens
College of Medicine, University of Florida
Phone: 352-294-8710