Sunday, August 3, 2014

JJ's Chickens

Autism Light #354 are JJ's Chickens.

Joshua James (JJ) Hart is a four year old boy with autism who lives in DeBary, Florida. JJ's Chickens have made a tremendous difference in his life over the past three years. Currently he has three chickens named Acorn, Nugget and Snow. JJ calls them his "ducks". JJ's Chickens are Autism Light because of the therapeutic help they provide for JJ.

Ashleigh Hart, JJ's mother, describes the help the chickens provide for her son and his autism in this way: 

JJ’s chickens really helped him come out of his shell! He is physically active and social. The chickens helped give JJ something to look forward to. They love him with no conditions and in turn, he loves them. When he comes home from school, he goes out, he sees his chickens, gives them treats and plays with them and is content. 

They have helped him physically, mentally, socially and even in terms of his diet (he eats the hens’ eggs). The chickens encouraged him to speak. He started making sounds and mimicking them when he was younger. (As quoted by Alex Strickland for Autism Daily Newscast, March 13, 2014).

JJ Hart's family acquired the chickens before any city zoning issue or controversy surfaced in their community about private ownership of chickens. But after they had been with JJ for a year, JJ's Chickens got packaged into a one year pilot program to regulate them within the  City of DeBary, Florida. Then in 2013, the City Council voted to end the program and prohibit chickens, including JJ's Chickens, from being in the city limits anymore. The Hart family hired an attorney and were victorious in this important case for the autism community. In the end, because the chickens were being used for therapy for a person with a disability, JJ's family received a special accommodation from the city council permiting three chickens at a time to be at their property in DeBary, Florida for as long as JJ lives in the home (Orlando Sentinel, December 11, 2013). For more information on this civic disability case visit JJ's Chickens website.

The Autism Daily Newscast reported that "Dr. Emily Forrest, a developmental behavioral pediatrician for Florida Hospital for Children voiced that although chickens are unconventional in the use of Autism therapy as dogs and horses are more commonly used JJ. has bonded with them and made progress (Autism Daily Newscast, December 7, 2013)."

Social Media: If you would like to keep track of JJ's Chickens join the Facebook Group called Save JJ HART's "Ducks".

JJ's Chickens are the first chickens to be honored at Autism Light and a link to this article will be placed today on the Animals Page at Autism Light. It is possible that chickens could help some other person or child with autism somewhere in the world. We wish JJ the best in his life and hope his chickens will continue to be a blessing to him in his development.

Autism Light honors diverse heroes to the world of autism.

The photos in this post were used with permission of Ashleigh Hart.

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