#WATWB February 2019 – Animals and Autism


PHOTO: Jim Brownlie manages the farm south of Perth. (ABC Radio Perth: Kate Leaver)

Welcome to #WATWB for February 2019.  Please visit the posts of our valiant co-hosts
Sylvia McGrath,
Peter Nena,
Shilpa Garg,
Inderpreet Uppal,
and Belinda Witzenhausen.

As with other months, we are here to bring some good news on the final Friday of each month.

So… what about baby animals and autism?  Enter the good news tab that the Australian ABC News network now carries on their website.  There you will find stories like….

Miniature farm animals are being used to provide respite and support to children and teenagers with autism.

INKA respite farm stay at Lake Clifton, 110 kilometres south of Perth, is home to the fun-size animals including pigs, sheep, goats and horses.

Groups of children and teenagers with autism bunk at the homestead and work together to care for each other and the animals.

Let’s also hear from the Farm Manager, Jim Brownlie.

Mr Brownlie said some of the guests were highly autistic and did not cope well in high-pressure environments.

“When we see signs [of difficulty], we try to get them outside, and as soon as we get them down beside the animals, it just seems to calm them down,” he said.

He added that

there had been a high demand for the pigs as pets in recent years and saw them as a suitable alternative to a domestic dog or cat.

“They’re intelligent, they have the IQ of a three-year-old, and they’re very easy to train.

So, you say, what about hearing from a visitor to the farm?

Twenty-year old Tom Lean is autistic and said the farm had become a second home.

“I love it because I’m out of the city,” he said.

“My family has farms so I’ve always been a farm person — I feel more relaxed, I don’t get annoyed as much.

You can read more in the article and watch a short video here.  INKA Respite Farm have their own website and blog too.



PHOTO: A newborn mini-pig at INKA Respite in Lake Clifton, which are sold to make money for the centre. (ABC South West: Michael Black) 

Now, a little from verse about a special animal that floats and soars by Mary Oliver

The Swan: by Mary Oliver

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?

More of the poem here.  Many thanks to the late Mary Oliver  (1935-2019).

Please follow other blogs and social media posts with the #WATWB.  For more information visit this link.


Author: simonfalk28

Country lad, Focussing on verse.

17 thoughts on “#WATWB February 2019 – Animals and Autism”

  1. This is such a simple yet novel way to help and support kids with autism. Glad that playing and working with miniature farm animals is working so well for them. Thanks for sharing this lovely story, Simon.

    1. Thanks, Shilpa. I thought it was novel too. I’m also pleased that one of our news networks in this country is now featuring good news. Thanks for co-hosting us. 🙂

  2. Hi Simon – we need to help all who suffer from autism or otherwise – it’s great the kids and helpers all benefit from this wonderful project. Thanks for reminding us that others need support from the love of animals …

    Mary Oliver’s poem is just right – cheers Hilary

  3. What a lovely story and positive initiative, and I can’t help but smile at how fun the animal interactions must be. It’s great you’ve got a “good news” component to your network news as well – hopefully it will be so well used that it helps deliver the message that such a perspective is greatly needed and fully appreciated. Love Mary Oliver’s poem as well – she gifted us with so much through her writing. Thanks for this entirely delightful share to #WATWB!

  4. What a great initiative! Who doesn’t love animals? Interacting with animals is such an enriching experience for kids with autism. Thanks so much for sharing and for being such an integral part of #WATWB Thanks for the poem too, the world lost a gifted poet I’m glad to read her work.

    1. Oh my, Belinda, where do I start this reply? We grew up with dogs, cats and birds. I even dreamed about dogs on an errand last night. 🙂 I loved this story.
      Mary Oliver, oh yes, we still have her delightful poems and her writing advice. She won’t be forgotten. I miss her and Sylvia Plath. Thank you.

  5. Thank you, Siimon, for sharing this story, I had heard that they were great with dogs and cats, but farm animals I did not know about. It is always great to learn other techniques for helping these children.

    1. It’s great, isn’t it, Sylvia? I’m not surprised that your family likes this kind of story as you are so good with special people and critters. I hope to get to your post too. I had trouble get on your blog last night. Thank you.

  6. Thanks Simon – parents of autistic children would do well to have animals in their homes as well with whom they could bond. But as the 20 year old Tom says, it’s great to get out of the city. Great post and Mary Oliver’s poem is lovely too ..

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