Unique Therapy For Autism Brings Kids To The Farm

Friday, April 18th 2014, 4:37 pm
By: News 9

High quality farms could be labeled because of the land or the animals, but at this farm, it's the part time farmers that make it exceptional.

Like other 12 year olds, brothers Jacob and Keegan love the fantasy land of video games, but last summer, the entire Howell family jumped the pin into an unimaginable world.

"We've never been to a birthday party or spent the night at someone's house," dad, Duane Howell, said.

Jacob and Keegan are diagnosed with autism.

"We thought we would never have our kids involved with their peers in any competitive nature," Duane said.

Now with every friendly hello in true pig-Latin, every brush and every belly rub, Jacob, Keegan and others with special needs are able to raise and show pigs in state competitions with a hat tip to Josh Hargis and his Agvocates for Exceptional Individuals.

Learn more about Agvocates for Exceptional Individuals 

"A blue ribbon doesn't cost a lot, but it's worth a million dollars to a kid who's worked every day for it," Founder Josh Hargis said.

And while good old fashion hard work never hurts.

"Walking them, feeding, brushing them," Jacob said.

It's therapy without the waiting room for the Howells.

"They had an automatic connection, and you saw their smiles and they hugged them, kissed on them," Duane said.

The benefits are bottomless and so are the amount of new friends.

"You see the confidence level soar, you see the eye contact, you see the speech pick up, it's amazing," Hargis said.

So as Jacob and Keegan keep growing, dad can get used to this dirty, stinky and rewarding new world.

"To have them say, 'Dad, I think I know what I want to do,'" recalled Duane. "That moment is powerful."

The boys will start showing their pigs in the fall for the third season. The pigs names are Ocho and Lindsey Lohan.