On the theraputic properties of an elephant rhythm.
"Well, it was circumstance, I needed to escape an old life, had some conservation experience and noticed that mahouts seemed to have the most fun, get the best girls and withstand the worst whisky - why not invent a position whereby I could hang out with them".
But when pushed I do have to admit that well, there really is 'something about elephants' that makes them special, some folks see it in their eyes, some folks feel it in their trunk I think I feel it in the fact that their strength is so immense that with every limb, appendage (tail, trunk, ear and more I hear from the A.I. stories) they could not only break any restraint we put upon them they do have to actually concentrate hard at all times not to damage the puny two legged creatures they seem to trust.
Every time they gently touch your face with a trunk that can easily move a tonne of teak, every time when annoyed they move you with just enough force to, well, move you rather than knock you 20 metres - they do seem to know what's going on and choose to concentrate to avoid damaging us.
I have always said that the most dangerous elephants in camp are the babies that haven't worked out the difference between playing with their elephant friends and their two legged friends - feel the strength in a one year old who hasn't learned to concentrate as she easily knocks even the strongest of us aside.
One of the best dwellers on this side of elephants that I have ever met, Khun Prasop Tipprasert, was also one of the first ele men I met in Thailand (actually met him in Nepal first) has long recognised this about his eles at the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre and, about a year ago, set up a project to use elephants as therapists for autistic kids.
His theory is that elephants and humans connect because they operate at the same speed naturally, they walk, think, investigate, grow up all on the same time scale. He further theorises that perhaps one of the reasons that we, as adult humans, have trouble communicating with autistic kids is that while they may operate at the same rhythm as ourselves our own prejudices stop us picking up on this, well chosen elephants bring no such prejudices to the table and can pick up on the rhythm of an autistic person in the same way they'd pick up on ours.
This is all just theory but laudable in an elephant loving sort of way and to his great credit K. Prasop has not only gone on and used his theories to help Thai autistic kids, he has also done so in collaboration with the scientists at Chiang Mai University in an effort to bring some science in to explain what is happening here.
To my mind the project hasn't received the press it has deserved and his results are undeniable, a spin off from the same team was announced this week - which ought to come as no surprise to all my guests who believe 'there is something about elephants'.
Elephant therapy to treat depression
Researchers from Chiang Mai University (CMU) have a new means of fighting phobias and depression _ elephants. CMU had previously studied the effects of ''elephant therapy'' on autistic children and, having noted promising results, are now proposing a similar programme for people suffering from depression or phobias.
Audomsark Haesungcharern, dean of CMU's associated medical sciences faculty, believes the animals' voice may have therapeutic qualities.
Dr Audomsark says studies have found elephant calls contain infra sound, which is a relaxation tone, and ultra sound, which can engender active emotions.
It is these qualities, as well as previous results with autistic children, that lead the CMU researchers to believe elephants could help depressed people, or individuals with a phobia.
The elephant therapy scheme is jointly run by the CMU and the Forest Industry Organisation's (FIO) Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang.
The two organisations yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding to further develop their elephant therapy programme for autistic people aged between nine and 19.
The studies began last year and looked into the effects on four autistic children of their interactions with elephants.
Results suggested an improvement in a number of areas, such as self-reliance and social reactions, after spending time with the elephants.
''[The results] were beyond our expectations. This has encouraged us to continue the study into how the elephants can help relieve the symptoms [of certain mental disorders],'' said Dr Audomsark.
Nuntanee Satiansukpong, who heads the elephant therapy project, explained that under the treatment scheme, autistic children will be matched with elephants based on their personalities.
For example, hyperactive children will be paired with calm elephants, while introverted children will be matched with enthusiastic elephants.
''An autistic boy who had never talked with or even hugged his parents did so after attending the elephant therapy project,'' she said.
The CMU and FIO plan to set up an elephant therapy centre once the study is completed.
There are around 200,000 autistic people recorded in Thailand.
Many medical researchers worldwide have found animal-assisted therapy to be of benefit to autistic people. Horses, dogs and dolphins are considered to have potential in this regard.
Prasop Tipprasert, the FIO's elephant specialist, said the centre had trained 20 elephants to work with children.
He said that safety is the most important concern, so all elephants are tamed and kept under close supervision