Many parents are concerned about what will happen to their children with autism when they’re no longer around to look after them. A former NFL player and his wife decided to be proactive about making sure their twin boys were independent.
Curt Warner was a star Seattle Seahawks runningback. He and his wife Ana withdrew from the public eye after he retired to focus on their family. They’ve shared their story in a book called “The Warner Boys.” It details their sons’ struggles with severe autism. Curt said things were tough earlier on with his twins Christian and Austin, who banged their heads on the floor, punched holes in walls, and even burned their house down.
Ana explained to KOIN, “We didn’t want to wait for something to happen to us, for the state to take over and put them in a group home and didn’t want to leave our oldest and youngest with the financial burden of taking care of them.”
That’s when they heard about Sunridge Ranch in Ellensburg, Washington. On its website, Sunridge says their mission is to provide a secure family community for individuals with autism and other disabilities. They explain, “The goal is to maintain a lifestyle filled with meaningful work, enjoyable recreation and lifelong learning structured around each resident’s individual needs.”
The ranch was created by parents of an autistic boy who didn’t see enough living options for him as he grew older, so they decided to start such a place themselves. They wanted a ranch lifestyle near a community to be able to enjoy the best of both worlds. It’s also close to the Trellis Center, which offers jobs and social opportunities to teens and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Their website notes, “The Trellis Center was created by a group of concerned parents who recognized the need for a creative, innovative, community-based program where adults with developmental disabilities are able to continue to learn, grow, have social relationships, and work toward independence.”
The Warners said they met with some of the residents at Sunridge, and liked what they saw.
“We met the guys in the first house and they were going out bowling and they were going to movies and a lot of the students from Central University are part of the Trellis Center so these guys have a life,” Ana explained.
When the Warners decided they wanted a similar living situation for their boys, a friend donated a fixer-upper home in Ellensburg. They hope that will be a home to their sons, two other adults, and a house parent.
They’re currently working on raising enough money to do that, even if they say it’s humbling to ask for help.
Curt says, “We love them dearly and we want what’s best for them so we’re going to continue to move forward on this.”
For more on their story, watch the video from KOIN below.Whizzco