Young Andrew was autistic and bilingual. He spoke English…and Chicken. His family called him “The Chicken Whisperer.” He would shout, “Chi-kenn! Bak-ackk!” out his bedroom window on the second floor and the hen house would go wild. Five feathered dinosaur beasts with impossibly skinny legs went nutso until he ran across the yard to let them out of the coop. Then they would follow him around like he was a god.
Other days he would sit on the front porch deep in conversation with his best friend, an Araucana chicken named “Frightful.” It was a two-way dialog consisting of secrets told and secrets kept between boy and foul. His feathery friend became his voice, his only way to communicate in a confusing world. But one day, confided to Frightful; “I think my body is trying to kill me.”
That single statement catapulted Andrew’s family and medical community into action: To discover and destroy the unseen monster that was claiming his life–a disease that created pain so great that no painkiller could touch it.
By the time Andrew was sixteen, he had spent seven years living in and out of the hospital. He continued communing with Frightful, weaving superheroes into the stories of his own life. Frightful listened as she sat in his lap, or zoomed down the street on his new electric bike, stuffed into his jacket, zippered up to her beak.
When Andrew was no longer able to stay home, he conversed with Frightful from his hospital bed with the aide of two iPads and a FaceTime connection. And with that, came humor, laughter, and a resilience that astounded an entire medical community. Armed with the courage of a superhero, Andrew developed a will to live, and a desire to fight for a life he had never known: a life without pain.
Andrew received an experimental bone marrow transplant at Seattle Children’s Hospital in February of 2012, when he was eighteen. His sister was his donor. He was not expected to live through the night, but Andrew had other plans. The moment the infusion of the marrow began, he shouted into a room full of doctors, nurses, family and friends, “Bring It On!”
“I have some living to do,” he told his mother one afternoon, and within months, Andrew began transforming from a fearful, pain riddled boy into a young man on a mission.
Andrew’s story soon caught the attention of the Seattle Children’s hospital staff, the University of Washington Autism Clinic, Rotary groups, local bible studies, churches, and the school district where he eventually earned his high school diploma. At his graduation, he stood in front of an auditorium of parents, administrators and peers, and delivered a speech titled, “Why I think Chickens Have Autism.” He received a standing ovation.
|Publisher:||Behler Publications, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Kristin Adams is a public speaker and advocate for children with special needs, helping to bridge the gap between the outside world and the inner world of autism. Her speaking engagements have included: Seattle Festival of Trees Gala, a benefit for Seattle Children's Hospital and The Autism Clinic, Rotary, Community Bible Study and local school boards. She also works individually with children who have special needs. She serves on the Board of the Lake Washington School District Transition Academy (lwsd.org), one of the nation's leading transition programs for adult students with special needs. In the fall of 2015, she will be joining the Autism Guild at Seattle Children’s Hospital, a medical fundraising and awareness group supporting children with ASD in Washington, Montana, Oregon and Idaho.
Her son’s incredible story and extensive experience working with special needs children was featured at a recent Lake Washington School Board meeting. Subsequent media attention led to local news broadcasts and newspaper features citing the overwhelming success of the LWSD Transition Academy.
Her blog, Andrew’s Journey, was crafted during the wee hours of the night on an iPhone, from her ‘little cot in the corner’ of a very small hospital room. Andrew’s Journey chronicles the two years pre and post-transplant, and can be found at jonoffice.wordpress.com.
Formerly known as the Delta Society, her work with Pet Partners (petpartners.org), as part of a Therapy Dog Team with her Goldendoodle Finn, has opened doors for her to work with people of all disabilities in classrooms, clinics, retirement homes and community centers. Pet Partners requires extensive training to become a certified therapy team. The program utilizes positive human-animal interactions to improve the physical, emotional and psychological lives of those they work with.
She also was the founder of The Breakfast Club, a support group for mother’s of special needs children. The bi-weekly discussion group covered topics such as navigating IEP’s in the public school system, emotional and physical health, establishing friendship opportunities, and working with staff and teachers to facilitate learning.
Kristin lives near Seattle with her husband and their two children.