2-Year-Old Boy With Autism Gets to Keep His Chickens

Inspiring 12

chickensIn what has been an ugly fight for a family in DeBary, Florida, finally there is some positive news. Two-year-old J.J. Hart will get to keep at least some of his chickens, which his family says helps him cope with his autism.

His parents kept about 10 of the animals in a backyard coop for months, and they and his pediatrician were amazed at the "breakthrough" behavior J.J. showed, which they attributed to the fowl (which J.J. called "ducks). Then last month someone went and complained to the city, and the family was found to be violating a law against backyard animals. They were given 60 days, during which they were going to seek a special reprieve to keep the animals.

Then something horrific happened. Four of the animals were found beheaded.

While the sheriff's office ruled that they chickens were most likely killed by an animal, the family disagrees and believes someone did it deliberately to hurt them. The timing was a little too coincidental too, so I'd be more inclined to believe the family as horrifying as it is to think someone would be so sick to do such a thing.

Regardless, poor J.J. lost several of his friends to a violent death, and it looked like he might lose the rest too.

Thankfully, yesterday, with the support of dozens in the community, the Harts appealed the decision, and won at least a partial victory. The city council developed a new ordinance that allows all residents to keep as many as three chickens in their backyard.

While it's a good start, and the Hart's attorney called it a "complete victory,"  it may not be quite enough. "Well, we have more than three chickens, so we want to keep what we have," Ashley Hart, J.J.'s mother, told 13 News.

So the story may not end there, but regardless, it's good to see a community coming together and trying to work out a solution to accommodate this boy.

When it comes to autism there are so many unknowns and so many different treatments that work differently for each individual. There is certainly no cure nor is there one proven means of therapy, and some approaches may be unconventional. But that doesn't mean families shouldn't be allowed to pursue them, especially when they show promise. To do so, however, they often need the support and flexibility of their communities, of their schools, and of the general population. So it's good to see at least a small show of that here in this case.

Are you glad to hear this boy gets to keep at least some of his chickens?


Image via wattpublishing/Flickr


a mom's life, autism, boys


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Erynne Perry

Where can I support this, or sign a petition to help this little boy? Let him keep his chickens!!!

Storm... Stormycrystal

Let him keep his chickens

Rebecca Gause Adams

This is such BS. Have you ever owned chickens? They are loud, and they STINK. Especially 10, in a small coop. The family was just searching for an excuse when the got in trouble "oh yeah, umm...my son is austic! Yeah! And the chickens help! Yeah, that's right! We should keep the chickens because of him!" Their poor neighbors. My neighbors in Texas had chickens (and this was in the suburbs!) and their &$%! rooster crowed day and night.

jagam... jagamama0710

I'm glad he gets to keep his chickens. :)

Rebecca - You are completely ignorant. Do you know this family? Are you that boy's doctor or therapist? No? Then you can't say whether it was an excuse or not. Also, having chickens and having roosters are not the same. We are allowed to have chickens (up to 10 I believe) in city limits but no roosters for that very reason. 

Sarah Williams

I just giggled to myself when I thought of the chicken as a service animal. Let the kid have his damn chickens-it is something so small that means SO much to him.

And for the record:I live in tx as well rebecca. There are ALOT of chicken(and other 'farm' animals around here. THE SMELL DEPENDS ON THE OWNERS. if the owners are letting alot of chicken manure build up-YES it stinks. Kind of like if you didnt flush after you took a dump it would stink (DUH). As long as they are clean, chickens dont smell.

Jenalee Rodriquez

You know, the city council changed the ordinance simply because of this little boy. The fact that he even gets to keep three of the chickens should be considered a win. Quit fighting for the rest of the herd. Isn't three more than enough for a 2 year old to handle anyway???

bella... bellanoelsmom

Rebecca- it is so sad when an adult comes to judge without knowing the full story. In response to your ignorant comments above... JJ is my nephew. I witnessed first hand how hard his parents faught to get him diagnosed and find a treatment for him. Due to the tragic ath of her father Jj's mom brought him to stay with my parents for a week while she burried her dad. She had just made a decision to treat JJ's condition in the most natural non evasive way, by diet. It was only a couple days into the diet change when he arrived. He was not walking and didn't make eye contact with anyone. The diet was very strict and we followed it exactly. By the end of the week JJ was making eye contact, smiling and even walking. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Upon their return and further research it was decided that keeping their own chickens and feeding them a healthy diet free of all the unnatural additives we are poisoned with every day was the best thing for JJ. My brother then built a nice chicken coop for the chickens himself and the family began their life with chickens. JJs attachment to them was secondary after his body's need for a healthy natural diet. They have helped him in many ways. I would also ad that they do not have a standard size home lot eigther. They are considerably larger. His family has done everything possible to keep their yard clean and quiet as possible. Today JJ and his family go back in front of the city council.

Bob192 Bob192

Animals can be very theraputic, I'm glad he gets to keep some of them!

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