Airhart, D.L., T. Willis, and P. Westrick. 1987. Horticultural training for adolescent special education students. J. Therapeutic Horticulture 2:17-22.
Horticultural therapy uses plants and plant-related activities as treatment for persons with mental or physical disabilities, or for rehabilitation training for individuals with developmental disabilities to qualify them for transitional employment. The purpose of this paper is to describe a horticultural training program which was designed to improve behavioral and prevocational skills of adolescent students unable to attend regular high schools. Prior appraisal by the job developer of a client's adaptability to the program was required to provide realistic expectations of progress. A clear statement of the training objectives was combined with a detailed task analysis of the activities suggested for each client. Demonstrations and short, direct instructional cues were used to initiate job skill sequences. A structured work routine similar to a sheltered workshop was followed to instill confidence and avoid confusion in clients. Experienced clients were allowed to assist new clients to increase camaraderie and build confidence. Parents were encouraged to cooperate at home with a token remuneration for successful completion of work tasks. Many clients requested to return to the program. For them, an improved self-image and degree of self-sufficiency was a worthy achievement. Continued job skill development was encouraged to increase clients' employability.