Sunday, May 13, 2012

No Nature-Deficit Disorder For Conor In Fredericton,The Green City

Conor enjoying some time at the Saint John River
All photos were taken within a short walking distance
from our home in Fredericton, New Brunswick
The Green City

My younger son Conor, 16, suffers from severe Autistic Disorder.  He does not, however, suffer from Nature-Deficit Disorder in part because of our family life style choices and in part because we live in a city, and a neighborhood, with easy access to nature here in Fredericton.  I was pleased to see Fredericton referred to as a Green City in a recent article in the Brantford Examiner: City should look to Fredericton for example. Author Greg McMillan argues that Brantford, Ontario should brand and promote itself  as a Green City as Fredericton, New Brunswick has been doing aggressively over the past decade. The article notes that the two cities have much in common including trail systems located along rivers.  On a personal note we live less than a minute's walking distance from the North Riverfront Trail in Fredericton and Conor and I enjoy its benefits often, sometimes several times a day.

Conor suffers from Autistic Disorder a very real and serious disorder defined in the DSM-IV and the ICD-10, the two mental disorder diagnostic manuals used by physicians around the globe.  Nature-Deficit Disorder is not a medical diagnosis, it is an expression used by nature writer Richard Louv to describe the modern disconnect between man and nature, particularly between children and nature. Louv explains his coining and use of this term in No More "Nature-Deficit Disorder"The "No Child Left Inside" movement:

In "Last Child in the Woods," I described what I called "nature-deficit disorder." I hesitated (briefly) to use the term; our culture is overwrought with medical jargon. But we needed a language to describe the change, and this phrase rang true to parents, educators, and others who had noticed the change. Nature-deficit disorder is not a formal diagnosis, but a way to describe the psychological, physical and cognitive costs of human alienation from nature, particularly for children in their vulnerable developing years. In the four years since publication of "Last Child" (with an updated and expanded edition in 2008), the gap has grown wider.

I am not suggesting any specific connection between autism disorders and nature-deficits in modern children regardless of where they live.  I know that I personally feel better the more I get outside.  Like many of my generation I grew up outdoors before personal computers, video games and even before multiple channel, high definition big screen televisions.  If we lingered indoors our parents would occasionally tell us "to get outdoors and blow the stink off".  I was fortunate in that I always lived in small communities near natural environments. To this day I absolutely love being outdoors, near nature, along the river and in the woods.  I bring Conor with me and I believe that he, not because he is autistic, but because he is human, benefits from more exposure to nature.  It makes me feel good to be close to nature even more so when I can enjoy it with Conor.  I hope he feels the same way and benefits from it as I believe he does.


Cameron said...

Great photos Harold. I know they enjoy it like nobody's business. In my two girls. The time we spend out in the yard is so great. You can see on their faces the good it's doing them. Thanks for the thoughts. Cameron.

Þorgerður said...

You live in a beautiful place :)
Lovely pictures. Conor looks so happy.

Autism Mom said...

The pictures tell a wonderful story of joy in simplicity. NICE!