By Katy Gill
An autistic 11-year-old who reads to her therapy chickens insists it helps in the development of social skills, confidence building and self-esteem.
Summer Farrelly who reads to her bird companions daily, says she reaps a range of benefits from it including character building, speech therapy and relaxation.
Though the young innovator, from Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia, enjoys reading stories based around chickens, she says the therapy pets themselves prefer Roald Dahl novels.
Admitting the chicks make no judgement when she stumbles on her words or makes any mistakes, Summer is confident to use plenty of character voices and relatable funny antics.
Summer said: “I have a special connection with chickens.
“They make me feel loved, needed, valued and special.
“Chickens are funny, smart and a chicken’s love doesn’t discriminate”
Chickens to Love was founded in 2017 by Summer and mum Cynthia, after a blind pet chicken helped the young girl through a tough time.
Realising the birds could help the rest of their family – who have all been diagnosed with autism – they decided to set up a therapeutic program.
Summer has developed the world’s first ever recognised therapeutic chicken program in the hope to help others with the same diagnosis.
The 11-year-old said: “Autism is my ability and my superpower.
“I like to focus on what I can achieve, not what I can’t achieve.”
Mum, Cynthia, believes despite Summer’s young age, but she’s making a difference for so many others.
Cynthia said: “She has developed this recognised therapeutic chicken program and then decided that we need to take it on the road so that everyone can have access to it.
“I’m a proud parent, I can’t wait to see what she does next.”