The Journey to Find a Good Home for my Son

Do you have a child with profound autism? Have you thought in a panic, who is going to take care of my child after I’m gone? My answer to both questions is: Yes! I am a mother of a 22-year-old son with profound autism. He is mostly non-verbal and has epilepsy. He was diagnosed at age two and has been in the special needs system since he was two and a half years old.

When my son was twenty years old, I had my panic moment about his long-term care and housing. I knew about group homes, but some close friends had placed their teenage children in these homes—with poor outcomes. I knew their children and the heart-breaking details of their stories, which made me determined to find another long-term housing option if I could. In 2019, while lamenting the dilemma of scarce housing options for the disabled to a good friend, several introductions were made which eventually led me to Living Unlimited and its co-founder Susan Riggle. Susan’s panic moment of housing her own profoundly autistic son occurred in 2012, when he was eleven years old. Through her own search for housing solutions, and not really finding any, she ended up co-founding Living Unlimited with Alex Krem in 2015.

Living Unlimited’s first residential community is called Clearwater Ranch in Cloverdale. Our initial request to be considered for this community did not pan out, which led us to thinking about starting our own residential community. By happenstance, this was about the same time Susan had found a property in Petaluma that had the potential to be a second Living Unlimited community. I immediately fell in love with this five-and-a-half-acre property that is right on the edge of the City of Petaluma. We jumped on the opportunity and by December 2019, Mustang Court Commons was formed, and it became the start of a new community. One that is created on the concept of a cluster of homes surrounding an anchor property.

As an occupational therapist, I am always thinking about how occupations and roles that we have throughout our life span provide the reason we get up every day and meaning to our lives. I thought about how farm work could provide daily chores and routines that followed the seasons, and how the manual labor needed provides the heavy work and sensory input that individuals like my son enjoy. Thus was born Mustang Acres Farm (MAF), a social agricultural project right at the doorstep of Mustang Court Commons and just a few feet away from neighboring tract homes so the community can grow. The farm is under development. What we do have currently is a large expense of grass, nine sheep and one llama. Eventually a vocational program will be developed, produce will be planted, a barn will be raised, and the residents will have hands on experience while learning about permaculture and being good stewards of the land. The dream is to collaborate with the local schools as well as schools in urban areas, where our special needs individuals will be integrated with others in the community through the farm. To find out more about Mustang Court Commons, please visit Follow us on Facebook at or Instagram @mustangacresfarm for the latest on what’s happening on the farm.

– By Fiona Wong


This is the first post in our new series: Spotlight on Bay Area Autism Families!

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  1. Thank you, Fiona, for sharing this! I’d love to hear how Mustang Court is working out for your son.

    1. Dear Alexander, thank you for your comment! Things are working out well for my son at Mustang Court Commons. Feel free to get in touch with us through our contact page on the website

  2. Hi there, I would love to connect with you for information for my son. This seems like a great fit for when he’s older. What’s the best way to get in touch?

  3. This is so inspiring. My son is 17 and an only child. I’m a single parent.
    This sounds like a great place.
    I hope that the administration is mindful of emergency situations which require evacuation. Conducting drills from time to time could be very helpful to train the staff on what works and what doesn’t work for each unique occupant.

  4. My son is non verbal and 27. Here in Sacramento there are no options. He’s been home 24/7 for almost 4 years. He’s become self injurious and so sad. I haven’t been anywhere in 5 years as there are no services or supports. I wish I could find him a loving and supportive community to bring him back to life again.

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