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Rusty’s Morningstar Ranch is a place in the country where people with autism can learn to live happy and productive lives. Deep in the heart of Cornville, it is home to nine very special men. It is not a big ranch, but with a little help, Rusty, Brian, Jim, Coby, James, Bobby, Dale, Garrett and Richard operate the ten-acre place they call home.
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Our days are filled with a balanced mix of work, recreation, learning and spiritual fulfillment. We garden, care for animals, maintain the property, ride, swim, volunteer in the community and have many parties and celebrations. We look at life as a learning experience and use every opportunity to enhance language and practical living skills. Volunteers come once a week and hold church services for us and we pray at meals and bedtime.
Our goal is to integrate all of these things into a unifying whole, so that life is truly as rich and fulfilling as possible within our Ranch family. Once this is accomplished, we can (and do) reach out and become a part of our larger community. The local community is small and supportive and the Ranchers have many opportunities for social integration. Occasionally, if one is so inclined, a job off the ranch may be held. This is not the norm, however, as most of the real work is on the ranch itself.
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They live at the ranch with around-the-clock staff members who help the men with their chores, their learning and their recreation. The ranch has a work program filled with many life experience-type activities. The men do their work in the morning and volunteer, exercise and go on trips in the afternoon. Evenings begin when everyone sits down to a family-style dinner.
When they are finished with their chores, it is time for play. During the summer, one of their favorite things to do is swim, particularly for Coby and Brian. “Brian loves the water. He could stay in the pool all day and all night.”
Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States. It is a neurological disorder that interferes with normal development of reasoning and communications skills. Autism makes learning difficult and affects the ability to communicate with others and relate to the world outside.
I’m always amazed when people say, “I’ve heard of children with autism, but I didn’t know there were ADULTS with autism!” Perhaps that’s why there has been such a shortage of programs and facilities for this group of children – now grown – whose behaviors are so fragile; whose hold on the world as we know it is often so tenuous. These young people, growing older, whose parents know all too well the frightening alternatives to leaving home; and yet growing older themselves, are finding it more difficult to maintain the painfully won gains made in school when that support system is no longer present. Rusty’s Morningstar Ranch is one answer to that dilemma. An answer long sought, carefully planned, and implemented with a delicate sensitivity for families as well as Ranchers.
We accept those who are over the age of 18 with a primary diagnosis of autism, who are not their own guardian and are toilet trained. They must be interested and willing to participate in the program. In fairness, it must be stated that we do not have any openings at this time. However, if you live in the local area, please consider our day program or contact us to be put on our list of people interested in our residential programs. Although presently, all of our Ranchers are male, we certainly have no philosophical bias against women. So far, we have not had enough female applicants to open a house.
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Rusty’s Morningstar Ranch has been providing residential services to adults with autism since 1985. The exceptional staff are well trained and committed to working with each rancher using proven strategies for working with people with autism. We strive to integrate opportunities that a typical person might experience into a unifying whole, so that life is truly as rich and fulfilling as possible within our Ranch family.