Capstone Project Title
Kuenzi Dearth Horwich, Matthew Mulvenna
Studies have showed that young children spending time outdoors have many positive impacts on their overall physical, social/emotional, and cognitive health. The benefits of nature contact have also been demonstrated for children with developmental disorders, but current mainstream nature-based curriculum provides no activity modifications for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In 2018 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated one in 59 children is diagnosed with ASD. ASD is a developmental disability characterized by significant communication, social, and behavioral difficulties. Research has demonstrated that the more nature children are exposed to, there are positive gains in cognitive functioning, mental wellbeing, and socialization. The author’s intended project outcome was to offer modifications to the “Take Me Outside!” activity sections found in the early childhood nature-based curriculum Growing Up WILD TM : Exploring Nature with Young Children to support young children with ASD. This capstone project supported the research question “what are the best ways to modify the Growing Up WILD TM curriculum to best support young learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? Currently, there are no standalone nature-based curriculums available that offer activities and lessons geared toward children with ASD, nor are there suggested modifications available in current curriculum. If an overall educational goal is to create inclusive learning environments, then curriculum to support children and learning should reflect the same practice. The goal of this project is to offer activity modification examples and support to non-formal educators in educating children with ASD in outdoor environments.
Coduto, Valerie, "Activity Modifications For Growing Up Wild™: Supporting Young Learners With Autism Spectrum Disorder" (2019). School of Education and Leadership Student Capstone Projects. 725.
School of Education Student Capstone Projects