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 reads to her bird companions daily and says she reaps a range of benefits from doing so, including character building, speech therapy and relaxation.
Though the young innovator, from Bundaberg on the central Queensland coast, enjoys reading stories based around chickens, she says the therapy pets themselves prefer
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.
‘I have a special connection with chickens,’ Summer said.
‘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.
‘Autism is my ability and my superpower,’ the 11-year-old said.
‘I like to focus on what I can achieve, not what I can’t achieve.’
Local businesses and the community have rallied behind the initiative with a local builder donating a new chicken coup.
Mum, Cynthia, believes despite Summer’s young age, that 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.’