Katelyn and Lucas participate in Animal-assisted therapy daily with the help of their Physical therapist, Aides, and parents. Their therapy animal’s help to improve their social, emotional, and cognitive function, as well as an excellent motivational tool.
Katelyn in 5 years old. At two months old she suffered a 30 minute cardiac arrest and several strokes. This left her with brain damage that affects her gross motor skill like crawling, walking, and sitting. As an infant a Neurologist even told us that Katelyn would never be able to do anything, another neurologist told us he expected to see a vegetable after seeing her MRI. For the first few years of her life she made painfully slow progress in all developmental areas. She was in and out of hospitals, saw at least one doctor every week and went to therapy several times a week. It was very draining on everyone. Then we made a decision to try doing alternative therapies, we stopped feeding her formula, stopped many of her medications, reduced her standard therapies. We started pool therapy, hippotherapy (a type of horseback riding with a therapist), started feeding her blended real food through her feeding tube, and started using animals as motivation to do therapy in a fun and playful way. Since then she has been defying her doctors by doing things they never expected her to do. Now we work her therapy animals into as much of her therapy as we can. She practiced standing with her chickens by feeding them treats through an opening she can only reach if she is standing, she practices using her walker by using it to go collect eggs, she does many of her stretching exercises outside with the chickens. Her therapy animals have given her the motivation she needed to reach goals her doctors and therapist never thought she would achieve.
Lucas is 7 years old and has many medical problems that affect his cognitive, social, emotional, and physical abilities. His chickens serve as a constant to him and help calm him down. They also serve to improve his cognitive skills by using the chickens in his educational home program.
Due to a city ordinance that restricts full size chickens we have asked the city for a variance to allow us to keep a small flock of chickens on our large city lot. We have agreed to follow all the other ordinances pertaining to pets within the city, including but not limited to, not allowing them to run at large, and keeping the coop clean and in sanitary condition. Our 8 therapy chickens are currently housed across the street at the only urban farm in Perry. Unfortunately the city has bullied the farm into relocating and our 8 therapy chickens will no longer be able to be house there.
UPDATE: The cities deadline for a response to our request for reasonable accommodations under the American with Disabilities Act has now expired. City council member Karen Potter has been shut out of all the discussion and the Mayor Pro Tem will not respond to any of her emails or texts regarding the matter. Karen Potter supports our efforts and encourages people to contact local officals and show support. contact information for the mayor pro tem and council members can be found at http://www.perry.mi.us/departments/council.shtml
Note: I have chosen not to share all my children’s medical diagnosis online to protect some of their privacy. But I would like to add that their medical conditions are far from stable and both children will most likely continue to regress despite the use of therapies and medical intervention. Our goal with the animal assisted therapy is to slow this regression as much as possible and give them the best chance of maintaining and growing their developmental abilities.