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Who’s afraid of the big bad woods?: fear and learning disabled children’s access to local nature

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2011
JournalLocal Environment : The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability
Number of pages20
Original languageEnglish


Children's access to the natural environment has been an issue of interest in policy and the media in recent years, with headline grabbing phrases such as “nature deficit disorder” (Louv, R., 2008. Last child in the woods: saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Algonquin: New York) being applied to the consequences of contemporary children's absence from natural environments. This paper presents some of the initial findings of a research project seeking to address learning disabled children's relationship with the natural environment. Through conducting inclusive and direct research with learning disabled children,1

This paper presents unique findings concerning the accessibility of natural environments, particularly focusing on the perceived vulnerability of learning disabled children, and the supposed dangers of and in natural spaces. This discussion provides an alternative perspective from a usually silent group, which should be given weight in local environment management policies. The work also has value for the broader social science community, in illustrating the potential for the direct involvement of learning disabled children in research.