The autistic four-year-old, locked in his own quiet world, becomes a self-confident babbler thanks to a cocker spaniel named Fern
- The autistic boy Leon Kirby-Bulner, four years old, was "locked in his own little world".
- But thanks to the help of a special friend, he has developed into a self-confident babbler
- His mother has no doubt that the family pet is behind her son's transformation
The four-year-old has grown into a confident babbler thanks to the help of a special friend, a cocker spaniel named Fern
Like countless autism sufferers, Leon Kirby-Bulner was locked in his own private, quiet world.
But the four-year-old has turned into a confident babbler thanks to the help of a special friend, a cocker spaniel named Fern.
Leon's mother, Hayley, has no doubt that the family's pet was behind her son's transformation, and is so intrigued by the couple's unique bond that she named her son Mancub after the jungle book character's nickname, Mowgli.
"Leon was trapped in his own little world, unfortunately, but when he met Fern it was love at first sight," says Hayley, 44.
“The couple quickly became inseparable. Mancub's first interactions were not with humans but with distant people. There was a twinkle in his eye that we hadn't seen before. He is a true animal lover and prefers animals to people. He's an excellent communicator now, chatting non-stop. "
Fern became part of the family as a puppy in 2017 when Leon was a baby. Now the two do everything together, from playtime to bedtime – sometimes in matching outfits.
"The help Fern gives us every day is not to be underestimated," says Hayley, who runs a falconry business in Andover, Hampshire.
Fern became part of the family as a puppy in 2017 when Leon was a baby. Now the two do everything together, from playtime to bedtime – sometimes in matching outfits
“She helps Mancub calm down when he has a breakdown. She guards the stairs to prevent him from harming himself. She gets between him and the floor when he tries to hit his head. She generally gives him comfort when needed. "
Hayley and her husband Karsten would now like to help other families with autistic children by collecting donations for assistance dogs on their Facebook page.
"Knowing the big difference Fern has made in our lives, and Mancub in particular, my dream is to help another family with an autistic child who can't afford to do it themselves," she says.