#WATWB February 2019 – Animals and Autism

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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.

 

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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).


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Again, We Are More

Again, We Are More

When I wrote the poem We Are More, I knew there was more to tell.  John O’Donohue was reputed to have said that, when he had written some poems, there was more left over for another.  What also helped form ‘Again, We Are More’, is the discovery of a fabulous blog by ‘Anna’ called Anonymously Autistic.  It just goes to show that we still have much to learn from the experiences of others and of how they are more than what they seem.

Again, We Are More

(i)

Perched

On the hard brickwork,

Atop a retaining wall,

He sways:

Back and forth,

To and fro,

A catatonic rhythm.

As each sway completes

Its repetitive arc

Groans emit from within,

Groans of a wordless language

Yet, transmitting a pain

All can sense.

He can memorise

Timetables and schedules

And recipes and shopping lists

And here

He’s reduced

To a state

Of oblivion.

But, again,

We are more

Than the episodes acting out

From us

That we cannot control.

 

(ii)

Into the middle distance,

Not looking

At what’s before her eyes,

She is last

To leave the courtroom.

Another case

Lost,

Gone.

She reels,

And feels

A tremble,

Ever so slight at first,

As the adrenalin leaks

From her

And on

To the parquetry floor,

Beneath

Her swollen feet.

Weary

She will have to face

Her colleagues at the office.

Weary

She will then drive

Through traffic

And home –

At last –

Home

To her son.

 

(iii)

“No, no, no!”

She says,

And her son,

He keeps groaning,

And swaying, more

And more

Before

It dawns on her,

As she cries into her hands,

That the more she rebukes

The more he will groan and sway

And cover his ears with the palms

Of his taut hands.

“Why?”

She asked herself

Had she snapped

At her son so.

Her sobs heavier now,

Face pressed against her knees,

Arms hugging legs.

Weary

With work,

With worry,

With life,

And yet,

Again

We are more

Than the building frustrations

That erupt

In desperation.

 

 

 

Simon C.J. Falk       29 October 2016

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