Monday, January 7, 2008


When I was in college my roommates and I spoke often of "people". "People" was code for one of you slackers didn't do their work.

"People left dishes in the sink."

"People forgot to clean the bathroom."

"People let their hair clog the drain."

People do alot, but mostly they just present really ridiculous scenarios.

One time, in particular, has stuck with me for nearly three years now. Three years ago, I picked up our local paper and read an article about a family that lived in a nice suburban neighborhood in our city. The family had a 12-year-old son who was an animal lover, especially a goat lover.

Now, this much I get. I'm raising a duck-lover. Kids like unique things (especially if they sell well at the county fair or make a great dinner). But this family took it all even further. They claimed that their son has ADHD and the only thing that helps him control it is his goat. Okay, this is even crazier than "green therapy"!

I'm not even going to go into the question of if this boy really has ADHD or if his crazy family environment has made him a bit hyper and inattentive, although you've probably already guessed where my thoughts go on that topic!

So, apparently, the boy and his goat would go outside and jump on his trampoline together. (see photo!) That would somehow help him to control his ADHD in ways that no other intervention could. The problem was that the neighbors weren't too happy about that goat, or the other one they own, especially when you mixed in dogs and their several other family pets.

The family was unwilling to move or get rid of any pets. The township decided to intervene and the family slapped a lawsuit against the township for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. No, this isn't a joke! I remember when I first saw the picture of the boy and the goat. I was certain it must be an April Fool's joke or something.

So, of course, this raises a myriad of questions, some of which are:

1) Why can't the boy jump on the trampoline without the goat?
2) Why can't the family get rid of the other pets to at least lessen the odor?
3) Why can't the family move to some place where there's acceptable space to raise livestock?
4) Why can't the boy try other intervention?
5) Do these people really believe what they're saying? A goat?
6) What's he going to do, take his service goat and trampoline to school with him? To work with him as an adult? Keep him nearby at all times? Or, is he just an in-home service goat?
7) If you even believe that he has a disability, what, exactly are the parents teaching him about how to cope with it? That society should cater to him? Oh, he'll get far in life that way!
8) How, exactly, does a goat help a child control his ADHD? Does he devlop a plan to help the boy structure his day? Does he create a reward system for good behavior? Does he bleat whenever the boy starts to get out of control?

This is almost not funny. I have children who are legitimately covered under the ADA, and I find this family downright offensive! It's disgusting abuses like this that endanger the legal protection of the truly handicapped. Who in the world could take this seriously?

Well, I'll tell you who. PEOPLE thought that the family had a legitimate complaint. There were something like 300 comments on that article -- many of them defending the claim of goat therapy! Can you believe this? People read the article and took this entire "goat therapy" seriously. PEOPLE were disgusted with the Township for their discrimination! PEOPLE were disgusted with the neighbors who were tired of smelling the animals.

To quote Tommy Lee Jones from Men in Black, "A person is smart. People are stupid." Amen.

No comments: