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Animals offer therapy, job skills for people with disabilities at Sunshine Coast hobby farm

When parents are faced with the news their child has a disability, it is often the beginning of a difficult journey to find the right help.
Now, a hobby farm has been credited with changing the lives of people with disabilities — offering both therapy and the possibility of developing job skills.
The farm is run by disability service Sunshine Butterflies at picturesque Cooroibah on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
Among its fans is 13-year-old Jasmin Green.
She has a rare genetic disease called Dravet syndrome.
Her mother Sue Paynter said prolonged epileptic fits had deprived Jasmin's brain of oxygen and left her with the mental capacity of a six-year-old.
"Because the seizures are quite continual … it limits how much you can do," she said.
"Along with that, she can't regulate her own body temperature. So, we spend a lot of time at home. She doesn't get to go to school a lot.
"The things that make her happy are pretty much the animals."
Jasmin, other children and young adults with intellectual and physical disabilities collect eggs, cuddle the chickens and dogs, sweep cages and pat and groom the donkey, goats and miniature cattle.
"She doesn't have to explain anything to the animals.
"The therapies are very black and white — you have your speech therapy, your [occupational therapy] — but it's very hard to come across something they can actually interact [with] at their own level and I think animals do that for them."
'Anxiety drops' in hobby farm
Sunshine Butterflies was founded by former fabric designer Leanne Walsh after she had struggled to find the right help for her son Curtis, who has cerebral palsy.
"He was born 13 weeks premature and I guess, with the challenges that we've gone through in his life, I wanted to create something that would have made my life easier, but now it is making it easier for everybody else," she said.

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