3 Bluebirds Farm, Blog Posts, School

“Paws-on” Learning with The Bluebirds

Early mornings are usually never an easy battle for most people, especially for kids who would love nothing more than just five more minutes in bed.

But at 3 Bluebirds Farm, mornings don’t consist of just getting ready for school. A day at the farm includes greeting the staff and saying hello to friends, both human and furry alike.

This past summer, the farm has welcomed a variety of new animal additions to the growing bluebird family as the non-profit moved locations and opened up not just new classrooms, but chicken coops, dog houses and plenty of open space for barking and laughter.

Sensory processing issues are one of the most common characteristics that impact autistic individuals in their daily lives both in school and at home. Children with different neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), are often linked having Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and display different sensory issues that varies from child to child.

Such sensory issues involve hyper-sensitivities (over-responsiveness) or hypo-sensitivities (under-responsiveness) that involve an individual’s five senses, as well as balance and body awareness.

As such, many every day objects can trigger a reaction and most American classrooms are not equipped with the proper accommodations for hyper/hypo-sensitivities which include:

  • Fluorescent light vs. sensory appropriate lighting
  • Noisy Environments
  • Strongly scented product (ex. perfumes, air fresheners, etc.)
  • Proper clothing (ex. tight waistbands, sensitive fabrics, etc.)
  • Sensory-stimulating toys
  • Furniture arrangement to reduce physical harm from bumping into hard surfaces

Of the various sensory triggers, the most commonly found sensitivities in autistic children are hearing and touch. With most classes in school systems packed with over 20 students, it’s difficult for a child with autism to stay focused or feel comfortable due to the range of stimuli in a classroom environment.

That’s why at 3 Bluebirds Farm, the classroom doesn’t just stop inside. With new barns, gardens, and fields, learning now intertwines classroom activities with hands-on opportunities to plant, grow, and play with animals that the students can help raise from day one.

This year, 3 Bluebirds Farm have adopted two Maremma sheepdogs named Maverick and Sundance that will be trained to guard the new chicken coop, and two barn cats through the WakeGOV Pets: Wake County Animal Care, Control & Adoption Center Barn Cats Program partnered with Feral Farm Friends, which allow feral cats to “work” on the farm catching mice while hopefully enjoying their new farm life.

The goal with the new animals is to not only give children the chance to experience physical stimuli through animals, but to also learn some basic responsibilities by helping raise and care for their new friends. Children can visit the animals, help clean out pins, or even join the staff in their daily rounds to collect eggs from the chicken coop.

Founder and president, Erin O’Loughlin, with students during an animal therapy visit.

On top of the farm community’s animal residents, 3 Bluebirds farm has also previously welcomed community animal rights groups who have brought sensory animals for animal therapy for kids to interact and learn more about the environment around them.

The goal has always remained the same for all who join the community as our bluebird nest grows: we are a family that learns together, and from each other, no matter with hands or paws.

For more information on how you can volunteer or donate to the farm, visit our website here.

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