Dean in allotment
Dean has Autism which can affect a person's social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour. Before Thrive, Dean knew he wanted to keep active by embracing the outdoors and to also gain some independence but hadn’t quite found the right place yet.

Due to his ASD he wanted to meet new friends in a calming, no pressure environment and grow his interest in gardening that he’d previously developed by attending a community garden. He’s now found his haven here with us at Thrive and despite Dean’s ASD, he has become an extremely sociable person over the years with a loving determination to help and care for everyone, he tells us “most of my friends are here at Thrive and I look forward to coming here every week.”

One of the special friendships that has blossomed here at Thrive, includes Dean and another client gardener, who also has autism and struggles a lot with social interaction. Week after week, Dean sits with him and helps him read his favourite book whilst holding hands to ensure he feels safe and calm as Dean is all too aware of how it can feel sometimes.

“Dean often steps in to help encourage other client gardeners to participate in activities and give them a helping hand. Dean’s kind and helpful nature is a benefit to the group” – Julia, Horticultural Therapist

Dean first wanted to come to Thrive for the variety of activities we offer, his favourites being lawn mowing, cutting down sycamores and strimming hedges. He wanted to take control and learn new life skills to gain independence and responsibility, things many people take for granted. He also attends The Vyne as part of his schedule here every other week to work on conservation, another newfound passion for Dean. With his unmitigated interest in gardening, Dean has been able to expand his knowledge and learn new life lessons such as being able to mow the lawn in perfectly straight lines, grow his own vegetables in his plot including pumpkins and cucumber, planting red flowers (his favourite colour), and learning to cook for himself, garlic and pesto pasta being his favourite!

Dean continues to be an extremely valuable member of the Thrive family due to his desire to help others and his ongoing passion for gardening and the outdoors!

Dean was asked how he felt about Thrive….

“Thrive is great, all the staff and volunteers are so helpful. Most of my friends are here now and no matter the weather, it’s good to be in the Thrive gardens.”

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