Kuk-kik, a 14-year-old boy, punctuates his few, slurred words with yelps. Kong screams and bites his fingers when he can’t figure out how much to pay for bananas. Other children freeze mid-motion, fix their gazes on minute objects and withdraw.
Enter Nua Un and Prathida — two gentle, lively and clever female elephants — and the mood among the autistic teenagers in Thailand changes as they begin their therapy, the world’s first using these charismatic animals.
Therapy elephants! How fantastic is that!
Animals are wonderful therapy tools. I’ve seen therapy dogs and therapy horses and therapy monkeys and even therapy llamas. This is one of my favorite pictures of Paul as he has a little ‘equestrian therapy’:
(All of you parents know this isn’t ‘official’ therapy because he isn’t wearing all that ridiculous equipment. As you can see, he is much happier this way.)
It made me think of this passage from Isaiah 11:
6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
I know some Biblical scholars believe this isn’t speaking of literal animals but of nations represented by those animals.
But right now I’m thinking how exciting it will be if we really get to play with all the animals of God’s creation – because look at those kids living with the confounding condition of autism who get to play with elephants today!
Yes, elephants were created for the glory of God!