By Elisabeth Nardi
When Jeanine Stanley’s son Ben was diagnosed with autism at age 3, she not only wondered what that would mean for his life, but at that time – the early 1990s – didn’t know anyone else who had a child with autism or experience working with them.
“You end up teaching the teachers,” she said. “We had to be the pioneers.”
For the next 20 years, the Lafayette mom learned plenty, fought for programs for her son and tried various therapies, all in an effort to make sure Ben lived life to his greatest potential. When he graduated from high school, a bigger question arose: Now what?
Along with a longtime friend and with the help of a former San Jose congressman’s ex-wife, Stanley believes she has at least a partial answer for Ben and other autistic adults — opening a ranch where they can channel their talents into work, on land near Fairfield they were recently given for this purpose. The women are working to raise money to build and refurbish facilities there, in hope of opening B Walker Ranch, named after Ben (his middle name is Walker), in 2015.