AMES, Iowa- A new organization is forming in central Iowa to help kids with autism. It is called Cultivating Hope Farms. Its mission is to give kids dealing with autism a place to relax and interact with farm animals.
“A year ago or year and a half ago our daughter was diagnosed with autism and we tried traditional therapy and that was not terribly successful,” said Brad Perkins, a board member for the new group. “Something that we’ve noticed is that Kaitlyn is most relaxed and is able to learn the most when she’s in a more comfortable environment and that is a more natural setting. As we like to say it’s when she’s with her fuzzy friends. is when she is the most relaxed and she’s able to learn more.”
The plan is to locate the farm on an acreage called Raspberry Hill. This acreage is operated as bed and breakfast by owners Brad and Gina Perkins. The Cultivating Hope Farms would use a portion of that acreage.
“I spent some time at a farm called Green Chimneys in New York, where they do a lot of animal assisted therapy there they have a very large population,” said Kyle Cervone Dahl a board-certified behavior analyst with Developmental Wellness. “The overall prevalence of autism continues to grow. It’s now 1-in-52 children nationwide actually ... and here in Iowa unfortunately they just aren’t as many service providers as another part of the country.”
The idea is for kids to be able to interact with and care for farm animals.
“I think that I am utilizing nature and utilizing farm animals is an opportunity for them to have that animal human bond relationship where they can connect with each other and animals can kind of bring out of them some of those skills that maybe other types of therapy might not be able to,” said Molly Wuebker, an Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy Drake University. “ I had a background working with kids with special needs and feel like this is a great way for them to instill work ethics within them can then carry all the other aspects of their life.”
The Board is also hoping to raise funds for an 1800’s era wooden barn to be moved to the ground near Ames where the farm is planned. The Board is hoping to see the Cultivating Hope Farm running in 2020.
If you would like to know more about this organization, click here.