Raising Wild Flowers

How does your garden grow?


When I lived in the country I grew roses.  I grew varieties of the most beautiful shades and intricate pattern from climbing roses to tea roses, to old fashioned bush roses.

It was magnificent.

It was also a magnificent pain in the ass.

Why?  Roses are picky plants, especially where I had planted them. They needed constant pruning, fertilizing,  treatments for fungi and rot as well as, I’m not proud to say, insecticide, to keep the aphid from devouring them.  Watering them was a daily chore as well, because our area experienced drought every single summer.  Even taking the best care of them, the environment was sometimes just not amenable to their needs.  A warm spell in winter would wake them out of dormancy, and the following frost burn them. It was a bad environment but I MADE them endure.

They lived on, so beautiful, and so fragile. If I stopped tending them in this manner, they would begin to whither.


Our city flowers are mostly painted

Some believe in cultivating children like roses. “Train them up in the way they should go…” Bend them and train them to grow right, clip them and shape them.

Children on the autism spectrum are often cultivated in this manner in numerous hours of therapy, social skills training, goals for normalization, and pathological labels for every single action and inaction.

They grow up in a finely tuned and controlled garden.

One day years ago, my father who was helping me weed my garden, asked me, “Do you know what a weed is?”


“Anything the gardener or farmer doesn’t want.”

Usually its an indigenous plant doing well,  because it actually belongs there.

Wild flowers are a case in point.

People spend quite a bit of money to make sure no wildflowers grow in their yards. The county mowed down my butterfly field last year because where I saw a butterfly habitat, they saw weeds.  As a culture, we happily destroy indigenous plants that attract the pollinators we need for most of the food we eat.

You don’t really need to do anything to encourage wild flowers except leave them alone and make sure they actually belong in the environment.

My children are wild flowers.  Give them the correct environment and enrichment and they grow in all directions.  I just try to provide the environment and let them take off and see what happens.

This is the case for my children with ASD as it is for the girls with no labels.  Call me  a rebel but I do absolutely nothing to encourage them act like the “normal” most therapies attempt to achieve. No one needs to have eye contact or sit at the table perfectly to be “work ready.” I don’t try to channel their special interests into more typical past times. I don’t discourage stimming, or scripting,  or perseverating.

That is their nature, not their illness.

Using their gifts and strengths we work toward learning and communicating without fear.

I find I don’t need to bend them to be an unreachable “normal” for them to bloom.



My opinions are mine. My sharing about my life takes into account you may not share all of my views.






One thought on “Raising Wild Flowers

  1. Teacher Learns to Code says:

    What a beautiful perspective! I have always preferred the term “special rights” over “special needs”. I wonder what it would take to shift the conversation to discussions around all children’s rights to express their individuality and flourish in environments that respect their unique personalities. Thanks for this lovely piece!

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