SEATTLE - The healing power of animals is well-known and usually, it's a dog, a cat, or maybe a horse. But this time, it's a chicken! There's a new book just out called “The Chicken Who Saved Us."
Daisy Duke is one of Andrew Adams' four chickens.
“He really found a lot of solace and a lot of strength in his ongoing conversations with his chicken,” said Andrew’s mother Kristin Jarvis Adams.
Andrew's mom Kristin says Andrew is bilingual: he speaks English and chicken.
More than a decade ago, as a shy 8-year-old with autism, Andrew didn't say much at all. But one day, he was uncharacteristically chatty.
“He picked Frightful out of a bin of baby chicks,” said Kristin, “and came up to me and said, ‘She is my new friend. She will save me.’”
Kristin didn't know then what he meant about his favorite chicken Frightful.
“Of all of the chickens at the time, we had about six in the pen, she would call back to him,” said Kristin.
But about a year later...
“I was outside in the yard and heard him out playing with the chickens,” said Kristin. “And he had her in his arms and he said, ‘Frightful, I think my body is trying to kill me.’”
He told the chicken what he wouldn't say to humans, even his parents. He felt sick.
“He sensed it, but he wasn't able to articulate that to us,” said Kristin.
He had a rare, potentially fatal immune disease. Tough enough, but as he readied for a bone marrow transplant, he couldn't risk infection by handling animals. He and Frightful stayed close regardless. She would press her beak up against the window screen where he slept.
“He wasn't talking to her,” said Kristin. “He was touching her thru the screen and that was another one of those times where I realized this is an extraordinary relationship between this boy and this bird.”
As he underwent treatment, it was important for doctors to know how he was feeling, but he was hesitant unless…
“Frightful was the touchstone,” said Joan Suver of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. “If you talked about Frightful at the beginning of clinic, he would relax. He would talk to you. It was hard to get him to open up.”
Kristin says being near Seattle Cancer Care Alliance was crucial for her son's survival, but so was Frightful.
“Gave me hope,” said Andrew. “To push through it.”
He is now past the five-year disease free milestone. Frightful is no longer around --she passed away three years ago, but Andrew will never forget the chicken who saved him.
“She was always there,” said Andrew.
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