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Learning through llama therapy - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Learning through llama therapy

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HARDWICK, Vt. -

"Huh George, are you so curious?" says Nancy Kish.

She would know. She's Hardwick's llama lady.

For a year now, she has been teaming up with therapist Talaia Thomas.@

"I'm trained in traditional therapy, but on Mondays and Fridays I put on my barn boots and barn clothes and head on up to the farm," says Thomas.

The therapist and Llama Lady have developed a program called Living and Learning with Llamas.

"It's a confidence builder to take an animal that's this size, which when you're a second grader, this is a big animal and to be able to go through the obstacle course," Thomas says.

Timmy has high functioning autism and has been coming to Agape Hill Farm for a few years now.

"It's fun, I like doing it." he says. "It makes me feel good."

"It helps him not to give up. Not to quit. To persevere and keep going. He feels rewarded at the end just to do it, says Carrie Welch, Timmy's mom.

Like us, she watched that in action. Watch as Timmy takes Kitty through the obstacle course.

At first he gets frustrated, then this. He steps over and then she jumps and makes it! He gently leads Kitty through the rest of the course.

"I was having trouble with family and getting along with them," says Adeline.

She's sixteen and has been working with llamas since this summer. She told us about Jake.

"He was kind of vicious too and didn't want to do the things I wanted him to, but after awhile, he would understand me and wanted to do the things I wanted him to do," she says.

"We'll watch them figure out what their llama needs in order to behave and cooperate. Then they'll say something like my llama is so stubborn! Oh! And it'll be great. They'll start learning more about themselves, they'll build a trusting relationship with their llama and changes for both of them, they'll learn together," Kish says.

"I can walk the llama and I know that I have to be calm with it and not be so frustrated or upset with it, or else it won't want to do anything I want. It'll be too scared of me. I have to be calm," says Adeline.

Something she tries to bring home.

"It makes me feel really good!" she says.

"Here with the llamas, the kids learn, but it's also set up in a way that it's no fail. That you walk away here with successes," Thomas says.

Right now they have groups for 7 to 12-year-olds and girls who are 13-17.

They plan to expand the program to survivors of domestic violence and people with serious mental health illnesses.

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