Nature Deficit Disorder

When I was growing up in the 70s my friends and I spent a lot of time outside.

My best friend Kristina who lived next door created a whole “town” in her amazing backyard with our imagination.

I envied her her yard full of all kinds of trees like dogwoods where we could lay under the branches and look up at the sun peeking through the leaves.

She had a brook or creek in her backyard too and through a cluster of honeysuckle bushes we’d suck on the sweet nectar throwing the petals on the ground, then venture across the water using a branch in the shape of a gate which we aptly named as entryway into our make-believe land.

We’d play all day and in the front yard we would concoct “salads” we didn’t eat made from grass, dandelions, flowers, and weeds – virtually anything we could find in nature’s garden.

We’d take slugs and poke them to death with rusty nails while chanting a mantra we made up.

We were real tomboys and ran around with no shirts.

We were still the age that we could.

As computer games replaced the good, old-fashioned fun of outdoor tag which my sisters and I used to play (freeze tag, t.v. tag; etc.), it seems that current and ever-increasing disconnect with the outside world is creating somewhat of a health hazard according to Fort Worth Child Magazine.

Dubbed “nature deficit disorder,” Richard Louv (who coined the term in his book Last Child in the Woods) says the absence of interaction between children and nature leads to diminished use of senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of emotional and physical illness.

A parent of a child with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) reported that after hearing about Louv’s research she started taking her son fishing and noticed a remarked improvement in his behavior at school.

“I thought to myself when I read the research, ‘Yes, I’ve seen this!'” she said. “It hit me in the face.”

“This is a sad commentary indeed,” said a woman named Martta.

Doug Muder, who is childless but has many friends with kids says, “If I showed up for dinner and was home before dark my parents were happy.”

“Today unstructured outdoor activity has largely disappeared for many American kids,” said author Marilyn Gardner who writes about family issues. “Apprehensive parents, fearful of everything from ‘stranger danger’ to traffic and crime also keep offspring close to home.”

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