A trip to the farm is more than just a fun day out for little Charlotte Rowse.
The five-year-old, from Fulwood, has autism and visiting Harwood Edge Care Farm, Rishton, has helped dramatically improve her concentration and communication.
Mum Sheena and husband Phil, a geography teacher at Moor Park Business and Enterprise School, heard about the farm through Charlotte’s school, Hillside Specialist School in Longridge, last summer.
Visits have helped improve her eye contact and she is even able to go pony riding.
Sheena said: “I was really nervous. Charlotte has not got any sense of danger.
“I was panicking, running after her.
“At first, she didn’t really notice anything.
“It took weeks and weeks of little steps of noticing the animals.
“Little visits, an hour a week, week in, week out.
“It didn’t matter if it was snowing, raining, whatever, we went.
“We started her with guinea pigs and rabbits and pigs.
“We ended up having guinea pigs at home.”
From there, Charlotte has progressed to horse riding, much to the delight of her parents.
Sheena said: “It’s taken us a while to get that far but she absolutely loves it. I’m so proud of her.”
The farm also has chickens, sheep, emu, deer and birds and is attended by children and adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems.
Sheena added: “She is sitting for longer.
“At one time, she would be running everywhere.
“She has started drawing. At one time, she wouldn’t even draw.”
Julie Cockburn, centre manager, said: “We have been running a pony club on Saturday mornings which Charlotte is a very valued member of the team.
“She has excelled in confidence and interaction with the ponies and other animals on the farm, her trust has grown and she is very gentle when she is around the animals.”