Pet parrot helps autistic boy to speak|
BLACKBURN, UK: An autistic boy who could not speak has learned his first words with the help of his family's pet parrot.
Dylan Hargreaves, four, has severe learning difficulties and had never uttered a single word. But after listening to his macaw Barney, he can now say "Night, night", "Dad", "Mum", "Ta", "Hello" and "Bye." And experts think he is close to his first two-syllable word.
"Barney has changed our lives. Before he arrived, Dylan would try to speak, but the sound came out as a noise," said his mother, Michelle, 33. "Then we got Barney and, a few months later, Dylan began to talk. It was only the odd word, but I could clearly understand what he said.
"Every time I gave the bird something to say, Dylan started trying to say the same thing. I think it's because the bird says things slower than me, which helps Dylan understand. Now when I put him to bed he says: 'Night, night, mum.' It means the world to me."
Michelle, of Blackburn, was given three-year-old Barney by her partner, Rob Hargreaves, 33, in January.
Michelle reckons her son's first two-syllable word will be Barney, because he loves his pet so much.
"If there's some enjoyment, a child is more likely to learn. And presumably this parrot has attracted the boy's attention," confirmed a speech therapist, Dr Hazel Roddham, of the University of Lancashire.
(Source: Ananova, April 20, 2007)