30 Jul 2018
Magic life introduces Chicken Therapy at Devonshire Lodge and discovers the benefits of this unique approach to helping people with Autism and learning difficulties.
Many people will attest to the therapeutic benefits of having animals for anyone on the autism spectrum. People have explained how dogs, cats, dolphins, alpacas, and fish-filled aquariums have positively impacted their communication, social and independent living skills.
Keeping chickens and a chicken coop are now also being praised as therapeutic for people on the autism spectrum. People who keep chickens are getting those with autism involved in feeding and caring for the chickens which promote self-help and independent living skills. The chickens serve as a conversation starter for people who are shy and limited socially, thereby helping to improve their social skills with peers. It has been proven that people feel safe and open around chickens.
People on the autism spectrum can also use behavioural methods to teach the chicken to do various tricks such as pecking a particular area to request food or engage in a variety of behaviours (turning, walking, going left or right) before getting fed.
Having chickens can also increase the verbal communication of people with autism. Professionals working with people on the autism spectrum can create activities around the vocabulary words associated with chickens and use these items to prompt the person to mand (request), tact (label), receptively identify (such as « show me the chicken food ! ») and echo (repeat) various vocabulary words.
Magic therapy – Chicken Therapy
At Devonshire Lodge, we do a weekly in-house activity called creative therapy.
This consists of chicken petting therapy, art, classical or jazz music and trampolining – rebound therapy.
We incorporate life skills into this activity, this is done by giving the service users responsibility for the total well being of the chickens. Which involves cleaning out the coop, collecting eggs, laying down new bedding and feeding and watering the chickens. All of this teaches service users the basic survival skills that are needed to live in a safe and thriving environment. The aim behind this is for service users to adapt this into their own lives. We encourage our service user to care for the chickens emotionally too, this is done through communication and displaying empathy. A quality that some people with Autism struggle with, we believe that if we can demonstrate this skills and qualities with animals we can teach service users to channel this into their own lives and relationships with people.
The Chickens Help
Chicken therapy has a major approach when dealing with challenging behaviors, we often use chicken therapy as a strategy and deescalate challenging behaviors and this has been a success.
We have found that when our service users are in the presence of the chickens or petting the chickens they are very calm, relaxed and there are engaged physically, sensory and emotionally.