Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We are Excited to Announce!

Our New Site is Here! 
We have been working hard for several months and we are live now at http://horizonsdrc.com .  One of the fantastic features is an integrated blog.  

Please continue to follow our blog on the new site http://horizonsdrc.com/blog Don't forget to get you RSS feed from the new site to keep up on the lastest post.

Have a great day!
The Horizons Team

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Plane

Jonathan and Phillip were shown a picture of a plane. They each created a story about the picture. They had to use 4 key words (plane, fly, high, clouds) in their story.

Plane fly high. The plane flys high in the clouds going fast.

By Jonathan

The plane is flying high in the sky. I can see the clouds. Dad is flying the plane to Florida and taking me, Rose, and mom to see my Grandma Miller.

By Phillip

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Come to the Edge

Come to the Edge
By: Erin Roon, MA CCC-SLP

“Come to the edge.”
“We can't. We're afraid.”
“Come to the edge.”
“We can't. We will fall!”
“Come to the edge.”
And they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.

Guillaume Apollinaire, 1880-1918
French Poet, Philosopher

Every day, parents and teachers are coaxing children a little closer to the edge, until eventually they are ready to be pushed off. To build enough trust in another person to be willing to come to the edge, even when fearful, is the true foundation of a solid relationship. In the above quote, I think of the fearful responder as the child or apprentice, and the coaxer as the parent or guide.

The idea of guided participation or coaxing, is a foundation of the RDI® program. Each parent is equipped with the ability to guide, encourage, scaffold and eventually “push” their child over the edge into independence. The scenario that is described in the quote is a very common occurrence for the families and children we see on a daily basis in our clinic. The child with an autism spectrum disorder frequently communicates, “I can’t. I’m afraid. I’ll fail.” This may not be communicated verbally, but can be seen in the child’s behavior or demeanor. When parents or teachers are able to provide the right amount of guidance, encouragement and scaffolding, the child begins to trust that the guide will not push them over the edge until they are ready to fly solo.

How do guides help the apprentice prepare for flying solo? Scaffolding is the best technique I know for working toward independence. Scaffolding requires that the guide provide just the right amount of support to ensure that the apprentice does not fail, but not so much support that s/he does not learn anything new. Scaffolding can be provided in several different ways, and the amount of scaffolding varies from task to task. A child that requires complete physical hand-over-hand scaffolding in one task may only require an occasional nonverbal prompt in others. It can be difficult at times to determine how much scaffolding is appropriate for a give situation; but my general rule of thumb for guides is that if you feel like you are doing all of the work and the child is just a passive participant, then you have provided too much scaffolding. On the other hand, if you are having breakdown after breakdown and the child and you walk away from the activity feeling like failures, then you probably have not provided enough scaffolding. This can sometimes be a fine line to walk; but with some practice it gets easier to determine what type of support an apprentice will need in a given situation. The goal is to be able to reduce the amount of scaffolding over time until the apprentice is ready to “fly solo.”

This may take a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years. Take it slow, and make sure you are building competence along the way. Bring the apprentice to the edge without fear and uncertainty; help them want to fly. This may be one of the best gifts that guides can give: enough scaffolding to build the competence to go it alone.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mad Libs Decorating the Tree By: Jonathan & Phillip

Many people decorate their Christmas party on Christmas Eve. Last year, Phillip had a playing party and everyone helped color the tree. Jonathan brought tinsel and games. And Tracy brought lots of fresh snow cakes and candy cookies to put on the tree. The most important decoration, of course, is the string of colored electric lights. (Jonathan) A few dozen blinking lights make any tree look pretty. And most stores sell round, sparkly buttons and little climbing balls to hang on the branches. But the hardest decoration to pick is the one that goes right on top. Once that angel is up, you know that the high season has officially started. Of course, if you are too full to have a tree for Christmas, you can decorate your truck or hang buses on your barn. Then the neighbors will say, "Beautiful!" (Phillip)

Crystals Update

2 weeks later...

Friday, December 4, 2009


Day 1: We put in pieces of sponge, and sprinkled salt on the sponge and water and blue stuff.

Day 2: We had to put 2 tablespoons of salt on the sponge. Phillip had a big flower on one of his and a baby one. Jonathan saw the salt turn blue after sprinkling it on.

Day 3: Jonathan - Put more salt, water, more blue, more green and yellow on top. We saw crystals growing. More, more, more!

Phillip - Today they bloomed alot. We added salt and food coloring, blue and "reakie" stuff.

By Phillip and Jonathan

Raising Responsible and Respectable Children

Raising Responsible and Respectable Children
By: Michelle VanderHeide, BSW

If anybody says that parenting is easy, they must not have kids! As a parent of three wonderful children, I have found that each one needs to be parented differently. One child needs to be held often, one needs opportunities to talk, and the other thrives on quality time. One is strong willed, another is a people pleaser, and the other is just busy! I’ve read many books, listened to several books on tape, and watched my fair share of DVD’s about different approaches to parenting; but a few things consistently resurface as important strategies when raising responsible and respectable children. These strategies work, because they’re not about the children, they’re about you – the parent. The first thing to do is write down the areas that you want to work on with your child. Speaking disrespectfully, hitting, potty training, walking off while you are talking, and homework issues are just a few of the problem areas you may be facing. Pick one thing to work on at a time, so as not to overwhelm yourself. I’ll use resistance to come in from outside as an example for this article. Once you’ve picked your battle, put your boxing gloves on and follow the guidelines below.

Remain Calm: One of the easiest parenting mistakes is allowing yourself to get upset. Once you are angry, you have given your child control and now need a parent to calm you down. The best way to have control is to remain calm; so take a deep breath, take a timeout for yourself if needed, then return to your child and talk calmly and respectfully to him/her – when you are both ready. Show your child that s/he deserves that respect. Demonstration is an important parenting tool; so if you scream at your child, chances are s/he’ll scream back. If you treat him/her with respect, that respect will be returned. Get down on your child’s level, or take seats next to each other to talk about the issue at hand.

Determine the Consequence: Each problem you face with your child(ren) will require different consequences. While you are calm, determine what an appropriate consequence will be for the problem area you are facing. Make sure the consequence is understandable to the child, that you are able to follow through on the consequence, and that the child will want to avoid that consequence. If you child is refusing to come in from outside “If you don’t come in right now, you can’t play outside for the rest of the week.” It sounds like a horrible threat; but is that one that you really want to follow through on? Instead, find a consequence that is easy to live with. “I’m going to go inside and set a timer for two minutes. If you are not inside by the time the timer goes off, you will not be able to play outside the rest of the evening.” The timer will put a specific amount of time that s/he has to respond and will hold you accountable for following through on your consequence.

Offer a Choice: By giving your child a choice, s/he is taking the responsibility for the discipline received.
“If you come inside in the next two minutes, you will have time to come back outside and play with your friends. If you choose not to come inside by the time the two minute timer goes off, you will not get to go back outside.”

Use the if/then sequence with all of the choices you give so that the consequences are well understood. Children learn the if/then series very early on in life, so this works for very young children as well as older children. For a younger child, for example, might work better with “inside, then snack.”

Consistency: You must stick with the above plan over time, or else it will not work. Does your child know that you will follow through on the consequence? If there a chance that you won’t, then it might be worth not doing what mom or dad is asking. All of the above points are invalid and ineffective if consistency with follow through is absent. If necessary, find another person to hold you accountable to ensure follow through of consequences.

Once children learn that you mean what you say, you will begin to earn more respect; and you will notice your child(ren) becoming more responsible. Just be prepared that it might get worse before it gets better. Children will push the limits until they know where the line has been drawn. So remember: Calm, Consequence, Choice, Consistency. The reward will be worth the effort!