Melanie OckwellWithout animals, my childhood would have been very lonely. Cats and horses played a major part in my life, helping me to connect to the wonder of the natural world. I believe that all people on the spectrum do best when given the opportunity to connect with the natural world like I did when I was a kid.

In America there is a wonderful organisation called ‘Green Chimneys’ that integrates animals as a form of therapy into its daily programs. It is my dream that Australia will someday have a place similar to ‘Green Chimneys’, in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, where people who are sensitive can go to unwind, reconnect with the outside world and find sanctuary. I often contemplate Temple Grandin and wonder—if she never got the chance to spend time on a farm and connect with the cows she so loves when she was young, where would she be now?

That’s why I believe the existence of a farm or small acreage property where people who are sensitive to outside influences can visit is such an important part of my greater vision, especially in this day and age.