We aimed to develop a horticultural therapy program for the vocational rehabilitation of individuals with intellectual disabilities and examine its effects. Individuals with intellectual disabilities (n = 28, average age: 33.23 ± 4.9 years) were recruited from a welfare center in Jecheon, South Korea. They participated in eight weekly sessions of a horticultural therapy program consisting of common succulent cultivation techniques at a specialized succulent cultivation farm located in Jecheon, South Korea. Before and after the program, we assessed hand function (grip strength, pinch force, and hand dexterity, evaluated using a hand dynamometer, Jamar hydraulic pinch gauge, and grooved pegboard, respectively), emotional behavioral strategies (evaluated using the emotional behavioral checklist), and social skills (evaluated using the social skill rating system-teacher form). After participation in the horticultural therapy program, individuals with intellectual disabilities displayed significantly improved hand function, emotional behavior, and social skills (all p < 0.05). This study demonstrates the potential of horticultural therapy focused on succulent cultivation for the vocational training of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Future studies should investigate the effects of the program in a larger cohort.
Keywords: care farming; gardening; human issues in horticulture; intellectual disability; sociohorticulture.