The goats are playing the piano! You may think it’s a joke but it happens in our house. I blame the cat, our fantastical cat called Thula who helped my daughter with autism in ways that we, humans, struggled to and their bond has inspired a movement of special needs parents to see how these adorable animals can heal and teach our special needs kids. So we live in harmony with these farm animals and in turn, they help us with our little charity.

I created an autism-friendly kids club, The Little Explorers Activity Club, that offers Animal Assisted Therapy. A safe and understanding environment to have fun and socialize with other families alongside animal therapy that is very successful with anxiety, autism, ADD, ADHD, depression, and many other conditions. It has been seen to lower blood pressure, help concentration, calm anxiety, and build confidence. Interacting with these cute animals increases attention spans and has a positive calming effect helping with social interaction.

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‘The Goats are playing the piano, G#!’

Have you ever heard of Goat Agility? Well, Smurf and Murph, our 2 pygmy goats are experts

Helping to improve communication skills

Blue, a rescue pony not only turned his life around but is now helping children on the autism spectrum

Jack, an ex-sports horse who had to retire through injury is now on an exciting journey with these children

Casper is our old faithful in the herd, young at heart but has so much wisdom to share

Spending time with him, learning to just be in the moment is a beautiful experience

Luna and Shadow, our beautiful rabbits, are perfect for those who are sensitive to noise as they are very quiet furry friends

Their coat is gloriously soft, instant smiles and the calming effect is clear for all to see

Our gerbills, Jerry & Gonzo, are inquisitive and curious, encouraging the children to interact

Finally, Thula, our Maine-Coon cat, founder of the club, aka the Queen!

We find out what the children are interested in and use those special interests to encourage new experiences

This all provides a non-stressful, non-judgmental environment and increases self-confidence

They learn to build bonds and trust

The release of endorphins (oxytocin) has a calming effect on children that struggle with emotional dysregulation. We work to restructure their emotional response, thus access whole brain learning

It has been clinically documented that just being around horses changes human brainwave patterns

We calm down and become more centered and focused when we are with them

Being herd animals, they rely on an acute stream of sensory data to sense safety or danger; they can also hear human heartbeat within four feet

Research on heart-rate variability indicates that horses have a profound ability to synchronize their own heartbeat with that of humans

Horses have an innate ability to help us heal our emotional wounds

They are masters of reading physical movement, facial expressions, and tone of voice, which often is missed by us

These majestic animals can teach us so much about our own behavior and body language which can help us to understand and control our energy patterns in order to express ourselves more clearly

Animals also offer a powerful multi-sensory stimulus, they provide spontaneous behavioral responses which are simple and easy for children to interpret

With the help of these wonderful animals, we can connect, encourage and inspire