I asked her name when she walked into the classroom. She was too shy to respond, so Aviya responded for her. “Her name is Yael.”
Yael, a sad and confused young girl, was only 4 years old. She was accompanied by her sister Aviya, a graduate of Sulam’s special education classes. Yael suffered from anxiety and panic attacks and responded hysterically with any interaction. The nursery psychologist supervised the staff, providing techniques and tips for working with Yael and building trust and educational goals. After a month of work, Yael began to feel more comfortable and with much needed support, she agreed to take off her jacket and backpack. From then on, slowly, Yael began to show steps of improvement. While she still could not communicate verbally in anyway, she began to show interest in what was going on academically, as well as socially. Yael began therapy sessions, as every child in a Sulam preschool is entitled to. At first, it did not seem like there was much change, but then came the breakthrough.
Yael was chosen to take part in Sulam’s horticultural therapy, commonly known as gardening, to achieve therapeutic goals. After her first session gardening, Yael ran into the classroom, with energy never seen before, hugged the teacher and promptly exclaimed “My name is Yael!” The teacher, filled with tears and hugs, could not believe what had happened. Three months it took Yael to utter her first words. That experience caused an amazing change in Yael and while her plants began to take sprout, she too started to make incredible strides. And most importantly, Yael realized that her name was her identity, an identity that with patience and cultivating could continually grow and develop.
What is gardening therapy? Gardening, is a medium used in therapy to help children with wide ranges of special needs to understand the concepts of growth and change, both within themselves and within their social context. When meeting with nature, touching the ground, the different senses are activated and allow for them to process new experiences, ideas, and skills. This learning process, preparation, patience, and anticipating consequences, allows for the child to build him or herself in ways that verbal therapy could never accomplish. Sulam’s trained therapeutic staff and dedicated, professional educational staff, make these opportunities possible for children like Yael. Another Sulam win! Like what you hear? Help us make this possible for other amazing children like Yael.