Calne school uses animal therapy to help autistic children

Jake, 16, looks after one of the goats that were brought to Springfields Academy.

Teachers at an autistic school have turned to animals to help their kids.

Springfields Academy in Calne has brought the farm to the pupils in order to alleviate any anxiety that may have resulted from leaving the familiar classroom.

“Animals never judge humans,” Dave Buscombe of Dave and Ewe, who supplies the animals, said.

“The animals calmed us down, but they ate part of our textbooks,” Jake, 16, explained.

“Three years ago, I was having troubles at school because I didn’t show up for any of my classes and wasn’t paying attention.

“Since then, I’ve learned how essential school is, and I’ve liked lessons a lot more now that I’m dealing with animals,” he continued.

Students are assigned animals based on their conduct; for example, calmer students are given bunnies to care for, whereas more enthusiastic students are given pygmy goats.

Harry, 14, stated that he likes caring for the animals.

According to teacher Cara Mead, the Animal Pathway initiative also provides kids with farming experiences, and the outcomes have been favourable.

“We’ve seen that pupils who use animal therapy are calmer in class for the remainder of the day,” said Cara Mead, a teacher.

“We put them in classes, but it caused some confusion because the lambs had to wear diapers.

“Some kids will come for a sensory experience, while others will come to study – they’re like sponges learning about the animals,” she explained.

Those who are more confident with animals are encouraged to study farming skills that will aid them in the profession.

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