Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture

Document Type



This study establishes a set of guidelines for designing a therapeutic garden for autistic children. To understand how a garden may provide benefit, the literature on healing gardens is reviewed. The history of gardens in hospital settings and other healthcare institutions is examined. In addition, published work on the effects of nature on stress and health outcomes and theories as to why nature is restorative is included in the review of the literature. Because the focus of the study is outdoor environments for autistic children, published works on children’s outdoor environments and the topic of play are reviewed as well. The nature of autism and its characteristics are studied to determine the strengths, deficits, and needs of the autistic child as well as current treatment methodologies in use today including whether these treatments would lend themselves to an outdoor environment. Informal interviews with professionals who work with autistic children on a daily basis give insight into these treatment methodologies. A field study conducted at a facility for autistic children in New Orleans allowed observations of autistic children and the professionals who work with them providing first hand information about the nature of autism and implementation of treatment methodologies. Based on the extensive literature review, informal interviews, the field study, direct observation, and the writer’s own experience of teaching autistic children in New Orleans for a year, design guidelines are established.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Kevin Risk