Service parrot changes Davis teen's life

Therapy bird a true companion for Davis teen with autism

Mary Le Compte watched a bird change her teenage son Jacob Macintosh.

The mother and son were living in Davis two years ago when they visited Parrot Planet in East Sacramento.

There, general manager Sara Walter sold them a Greenwing Macaw named Sam.

How the parrot impacted Macintosh, 16 -- who is diagnosed with autism and disorganized schizophrenia, his mom said, along with several other conditions -- is nothing short of astounding.

"He never used to talk to people. He would just kind of ramble back and forth and stuff," Le Compte explained to ABC10 News. "As soon as he got Sam, he started outwardly communicating with people and being able to look them in the face."

Walter, who has three macaws of her own, said Sam is a service animal for Macintosh.

"He has been doing beautifully with the bird. It is his true companion. He does take really good care of the bird," Walter said. "When he does come in, he asks a lot of questions."

Asking questions is a social interaction that, prior to the parrot, would have been almost impossible.

Now, Macintosh can share his knowledge of parrots with no hesitation.

"Green macaws are basically endangered out in the wild but not in captivity, and basically they live longer in captivity than out in the wild," he told ABC10 News.

"It's a constant, steady, positive relationship. It's something that a child with autism can succeed at," Walter said.

Macintosh's mom said Sam also alerts the family if her son forgets to take his medication.

"It's why his psychiatrist wrote (Sam) up as 'medical necessity,' and (the bird) is able to do specific tasks," Le Compte said, adding the psychiatric said Sam is "a 'service' instead of an 'emotional support' animal."

She'd like to see the federal government officially recognize parrots as service animals, so more kids with autism and other diagnoses can see positive change.

"They just don't get enough credit," Le Compte said, of parrots.

The family moved from Davis to Southern California two months ago, where Macintosh continues to make progress with Sam by his side.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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