The Love of Animals and Asperger’s Syndrome

Amy Van Impe Amy grew up in Burlington Ontario. She has a cottage on Mississagagon Lake located in the Township of North Frontenac.

Amy has Asperger’s syndrome. Asperger Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by difficulties in social interaction.

Amy tells us that she remembers the first time she visited Land O’Lakes Rescue Petting Farm.

“I couldn’t believe that Barry & Donna had rescued and saved these animals. I admit that the first summer I went I visited the farm 3 or 4 times. There was an instant connection for me with one of the horses. It was something that I had never really felt before. I just couldn’t stay away from the farm.” says Amy.

Autism and HorsesThe fact that the horses serve as a therapeutic purpose for Amy is no accident. There seems to be a unique chemistry between people on the autistic spectrum and animals. Certainly, Amy has noticed this.

Temple Grandin assistant professor of animal science at Colorado State University, best selling author and autistic activist tells of her love for horses. An completely unexpected turning point in her life changed everything for her. While looking after horses at her sister-in-law’s ranch, she began to thrive.  She then discovered that she had a special bond with the cattle also at the ranch, in whose company she felt more peaceful than with people.

Professor Tony Attwood, a psychologist and one of the world’s leading experts on ASD has written extensively about Asperger’s Syndrome. In his forward for Liane Holliday Willey’s book ‘Safety Skills for Asperger Women: How to save a Pefectly Good Female Life’, Attwood writes: “Another escape is into the exciting world of nature, having an intuitive understanding of animals, not people. Animals become loyal friends, eager to see and be with you, with her feeling safe from being teased or rejected and appreciated by her animal friends.”

The extremely important value of animals and pets in the lives of those on the autistic spectrum cannot be denied. In fact, animal assisted therapy is a growing field. When socialized and supervised properly, animals, including horses, can offer a wide range of therapeutic benefits to both children and adolescents with Asperger, as well as autism and other conditions including anxiety, depression, behavioral disorders, down syndrome and developmental delays.

Rescued Farm Animals‎

Allergies to farm animals doesn’t keep Matt Away

Sadly,  Amy couldn’t visit the farm last year or this summer due to her busy work schedule, however her boyfriend Matt visited and was very moved by the farm. Matt has always been highly allergic to most animals. But, what these animals did to Matt’s spirit outweighed the itchiness he felt to his skin. “Being a little itchy and tender is nothing compared to what some of these animals went through prior to being rescued by Donna and Barry Smith” says Matt.

“Matt and I would like to thank you for helping these amazing animals. We will be back to visit!” says Amy.

Specialists confirm that the presence of animals with humans produces huge physical and social benefits. The setting here at the farm is very therapeutic for not only the children and adults that visit, but is also very therapeutic for the animals; it is the perfect combination.

Thank you Amy and Matt. We look very forward to seeing you both soon.

Donna & Barry, family and the animals at Land O’Lakes Rescue Petting Farm.

There are 2 Comments

  1. George Stone says:

    Such a wonderful facility and determination to help these special needs.
    George Stone, Peterborough, ON

  2. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, Amy. The rescue farm is wonderful and so are YOU.

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