An autistic boy and his family can rest easy, at least for the moment, now that his two therapy ducks have been given a temporary reprieve. Problems began for the 12-year-old boy, Dylan Dyke, when neighbors complained to Georgetown Township, MI, officials in May. Per Fox News, the township zoning board held a three-hour meeting to discuss whether or not Dylan’s ducks were a violation of current regulations. The board ended the meeting without voting, which makes their verbal intention to safeguard the ducks a happy, but uncertain, ending.
The family has gained support from thousands of people via the Facebook page Dylan’s Duck Adventures. A recent post indicated that the zoning board will be meeting to discuss the topic again in late September.
Board members did indicate that they plan on adopting a resolution in September that would include new regulations specifically for Dylan’s ducks. Rules are expected to be spelled out regarding the way the ducks are maintained and kept. If everything goes as expected, any violations of the new resolution would open up the Dyke family to further complaints from their neighbors, along with the possible removal of the ducks.
Neighbors told MLive that they didn’t necessarily want the ducks removed altogether. At the same time, there were several complaints made about the ducks being aggressive, noisy, and messy. However, according to local resident and supporter Kimberly DeVries, many of these complaints are toothless.
“The argument[s] about disease and feces in our neighborhoods, I feel are invalid. We live on a lake… I have flocks of ducks and geese on our lakes every day.”
MLive also reported that a therapist has vouched for the ducks and their positive impact on Dylan’s ability to manage the challenges associated with high-functioning autism, sometimes referred to as Asperger’s syndrome.
People on the autism spectrum are “especially susceptible to high levels of unhealthy stress,” says expert Richard Mills. This is a serious problem because, as the Miami Herald indicated, stress is already the prime culprit in the six leading causes of early death. When you combine this with an increased risk of continual stress, autistic individuals of all ages have a disproportionate number of problems with heart disease, lung ailments, cancer, suicide, cirrhosis of the liver, and accidents, along with depression and anxiety.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that having a pet or a therapy animal reduces anxiety and stress, boosts the brain’s levels of oxytocin, and helps people form better friendships. All of these factors are highly beneficial for Dylan and others on the spectrum, and that’s the primary reason his family is fighting so hard to keep the autistic boy’s therapy ducks.