Friday, March 30, 2007


With Spring Break approaching there are many more opportunities for you do get out there and do things with your child(ren). Also, with the weather becoming nicer there are more opportunities to get outside and do activities. By starting out with just the smallest of opportunities it will lead to greater and greater things with your child(ren).

Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises.
- Demosthenes

Thursday, March 29, 2007

How beautiful are you?

As I sat at my computer this morning with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes for my colleague and friend Michelle trying to decide what to blog about I read one of the sayings on my day to day calendar and thought that's what I need right now.

The saying goes "Do you ever stop to realize how beautiful you are and who the people are in your life that see your beauty? How about right now?"

We all have beauty it is just a matter of what we deem beautiful. Some of us have surface beauty, some of us have inner beauty and some of us have a combination of both. What makes each of us beautiful in our own way depends on the eye of the beholder. What I find beautiful about someone may be different than what you find beautiful about that same person. Sometimes it is hard to find our own beauty or the beauty in another person, but if you look hard enough you will see it.

Go to the mirror right now and tell yourself how beautiful you are - be specific. What is it about yourself that you find beautiful? Now go and find all those people in your life that you care about and tell them how beautiful they are to you and why. Now is the time, don't wait. You may just turn someone's day around or change how they see themselves.

Often times our lives are so hectic and hurried that we don't take the time to slow down and tell people how beautiful they are so it will be my mission today to tell at least 5 people how beautiful they are. Can you beat me?

Talk to you soon,

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Harsh Reality

Blogging, it's used to share what's on our minds. Sometimes we will laugh, sometimes we will ponder, sometimes we will learn, sometimes we will...mourn. Today I blog with a heavy heart. I'm not sharing this story to depress, but rather encourage you down the remediation path in order to prevent the outcome that my family has endured. This week Sunday we received the news that my cousin with aspergers was admitted to a mental institution due to psychotic symptoms. The next day he attempted suicide while on suicide watch and he was most likely successful. Today he lays in the hospital in critical condition, little to no brain activity, fevers spiking, seizures etc... His body is giving out, he has given up.

I hurt as a cousin to see him live a life that was so hard, that eventually lead him to the point where life no longer seemed important. I hurt as an RDI consultant knowing that I could have offered more to him, but accept the reality that I can't help everyone and they weren't asking me for support. Without the invitation to help, there was nothing I could do to make his life easier.

For the families that have decided on the remediation route, keep up the hard work. Continue this path of removing these obstacles from your child's life. Our goal is to provide a good quality of life for individuals with autism - to live a full and rewarding life. For those of you reading this who haven't decided to join the remediation path, I encourage you more now to consider this as an option. Often we hear the comment, "my child isn't that bad, he's high functioning." My cousin had asperger's and wasn't even diagnosed until he was in his 20's. He wasn't "that bad", yet his quality of life was poor. This didn't have to be the outcome for him.

On a more postitive note, I dedicate myself even more to the families that I work with, knowing that I can walk them down the remediation path. I strive to do all I can to prevent this outcome for others and instead to improve the quality of life for the entire family. I am so glad that remediation is now an option! I had the wonderful opportunity to cry with a family today over the joy of how much progress their son has made and how much their quality of life has imporved as a family. What a priceless moment and one that I needed at a time like this!

Until next week and even more fired up about remediation,

Friday, March 23, 2007

Get Out There!

I just returned from a wonderful cruise vacation and sat down to blog with something in mind that I noticed while on the cruise. We traveled on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship and one of their tag lines is "Get Out There!" I thought that this is also applicable to the realm of remediating autism. Parents need to occasionally be reminded to "Get Out There!" and do something with their child(ren). So, with this simple tag line in mind it should prod you to do just exactly what it says - "Get Out There!"

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Larry King Live

I know I already posted for today, but I really had two things I needed to say this week and since Michelle is on vacation I’ll just take her spot and post twice. Nicole and I happened to be online doing a chat last night when someone posted that Larry King Live was talking about autism right at the moment so we both flipped it on. While I am happy that people in the media are bringing awareness to the topic I wish that a little more research would be done prior to airing shows like this.

I have to say that I was utterly depressed and very sad watching this show last night. It even caused me to talk to my t.v. (yes I know they can’t hear me). All of these parents and celebrities on there showing this grim picture of what autism is and what we should do to “treat” it. Of course all of what they discussed was compensation strategies that will not help those children reach a quality of life. It made me so sad because these parents want so badly to hope that things will be okay, but obviously do not see a bright future for themselves or their children. Nicole and I (as well as many other RDI ® consultants) know we can do something to help these families and I think that is what makes this so hard to watch.

Well we took action and I posted a comment on Toni Braxton’s website and we both e-mailed Larry King. If any of you feel so moved I would encourage you to do the same. Let’s get the word out that there is something we can do to remediate autism and provide a quality of life for people on the autism spectrum and their families.

Here’s to remediation!

An Overflowing Heart (Emotion Sharing)

There was a great quote this morning on my daily calendar which tied in nicely with what I was going to write about.

“When the heart overflows, it comes out through the mouth.” – African proverb

I had the greatest emotion sharing moment ever at school yesterday. I have a group of two students with autism that come to see me two times each week. One of the students asked at our previous session if we could read the book I know an old lady who swallowed a fly. So yesterday was the day. Now, I have several versions of this story and just randomly selected one of the books off the shelf to read. I guess that even though I have read this version before I must not have ever really paid attention to the pictures. As I was reading yesterday I was really trying to call attention to different aspects about the book not just the words, but the pictures and to use some declarative language. I came to the page where the lady is going to eat the cat and looked down at the picture where I discover the lady is making a cat sandwich. She is putting all sorts of condiments, lettuce, olives, cheese, etc. on the cat’s head. The cat has this expression on it’s face like “why me?” Well I started to chuckle a little and then the two students started to laugh and we all ended up just laughing and laughing about this. It got even funnier when on the opposite page the woman has obviously started to eat the cat and the cat’s tail is sticking out of her mouth. Well needless to say we all had a good belly laugh over this.

How I wish I had a video camera yesterday to capture that on tape. It was the best. Our hearts were surely overflowing out of our mouths at that moment. Try letting your heart overflow today.

Talk to you soon,

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Staying the Course

As a consultant to families I get to celebrate the highs with them, as well as support them through the lows. When families experience periods of difficulty or setback I often find myself telling them that autism is tough, but they are tougher. They have to be. Autism is hard and change usually doesn’t come easily. We cannot allow ourselves to become too blinded by the joys of the highs or the sorrows of the lows. We must stay the course and know that in every marathon there are some miles that will be harder and slower than others. I recently came upon something called the Stockdale Paradox, which was written in the realm of the business world. It reads:

“Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties. And at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

I want families to write this out and stick it on their refrigerators! We must be tenacious in our desire to remediate autism, and at the same time be honest and willing to act on the things that are getting in our way. It does no good to believe that somehow we will prevail if we are not willing to look at the very real obstacles and problems that must be addressed. It also does no good to stay focused only on the immediate problems at hand and not have a long-term vision and mission for what we will accomplish. Both are needed – a long term mission that accepts nothing less than success, as well as short term willingness to confront the obstacles that are getting in the way.

Until next week,

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Happy feeding!

So Sarah, Nicole and I are at a feeding conference today, tomorrow and Saturday. What a great experience so far. We are all really excited by how much it coincides with the philosophy of RDI. The technique is grounded in typical development which completely aligns with RDI.

This program also requires participation by parents and needs families to carry out the program throughout each day which also goes along with the RDI lifestyle. We are very excited to get back to the center and start implementing some of these techniques with the children we see each day.

Sarah and I are really looking forward to utilizing this program this summer in our feeding group we are running. We are all excited to learn more about how to use the program. What a great learning experience this has been and it completely makes sense from a developmental perspective. I am so glad to have the opportunity to find new ways to help families with the difficult aspects of feeding that face so many of our children on and off the autism spectrum.

Here's to expanded food realms.

Talk to you soon,

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Nature Deficit Disorder?

Ever heard of this? I haven't. It's obviously a term made up by the author of this book. There seems to be a disorder for everything these days, but it did catch my attention. As I read the excerpt on this book, I realized that this guy had a point. I have not read the book to have an opinion on his beliefs, but certainly agree that our kids need to get outdoors! Below is a description of his book. Just scan through it, you'll get the idea pretty quick.

Book Description: "I like to play indoors better 'cause that's where all the electrical outlets are," reports a fourth-grader. Never before in history have children been so plugged in—and so out of touch with the natural world. In this groundbreaking new work, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today's wired generation—he calls it nature deficit—to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as rises in obesity, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and depression.Some startling facts: By the 1990s the radius around the home where children were allowed to roam on their own had shrunk to a ninth of what it had been in 1970. Today, average eight-year-olds are better able to identify cartoon characters than native species, such as beetles and oak trees, in their own community. The rate at which doctors prescribe antidepressants to children has doubled in the last five years, and recent studies show that too much computer use spells trouble for the developing mind.Nature-deficit disorder is not a medical condition; it is a description of the human costs of alienation from nature. This alienation damages children and shapes adults, families, and communities. There are solutions, though, and they're right in our own backyards. Last child in the Woods is the first book to bring together cutting-edge research showing that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development—physical, emotional, and spiritual. What's more, nature is a potent therapy for depression, obesity, and ADD. Environment-based education dramatically improves standardized test scores and grade point averages and develops skills in problem solving, critical thinking, and decision making. Even creativity is stimulated by childhood experiences in nature. Yet sending kids outside to play is increasingly difficult. Computers, television, and video games compete for their time, of course, but it's also our fears of traffic, strangers, even virus-carrying mosquitoes—fears the media exploit—that keep children indoors. Meanwhile, schools assign more and more homework, and there is less and less access to natural areas.Parents have the power to ensure that their daughter or son will not be the "last child in the woods," and this book is the first step toward that nature-child reunion.

Something certainly to think about. I was just talking to a friend of mine how when we were kids we were sent outside to play all the time. It's sad that television, computers, and video games have taken over the wonderful opportunity to venture outdoors, get some fresh air, release some energy and absorb some necessary Vitamin D. Not to mention, when we talk about guided participation, its much harder to guide our children when they are attached to a television screen. Just imagine all the opportunities when we are outside to explore, teach and guide our children! Here's just a couple ideas:
  • sweep the garage
  • pull weeds
  • build a snowman
  • bring the garbage out
  • take a walk
  • go on a scavenger hunt
  • play a sport
  • go sledding
  • wash the car
  • spread woodchips
  • grow a garden
  • build a fort

The options are endless! It's time to get out and experience life! On that note, have a wonderful week next week as I'll be enjoying the beautiful outdoors in sunny Florida making sure my children have the opportunity to learn about sea animals (Sea World), world animals (Disney's Animal Kingdom), and soak up a bunch of vitamin D as we all hang out by the pool getting some good exercise in the Florida sun.

Until 2 weeks from now!


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Learned Helplessness

One of the concepts we talk about frequently with families is “guided participation”, also referred to as the “master-apprentice” relationship that should exist between parents and their children. We want all children to be apprentices to their parents, to actively participate in life activities under the guidance of their parents. As parents we should always be striving for the right balance between supporting our children enough that they can be successful, but not so much that the success is more ours than it is theirs. One of my favorite Dr. Gutstein quote-ables is that we should be teaching our children to be captains of their own ship someday, not training them to be permanent deckhands. The goal is not merely for children to be little helpers to us, but for them to slowly and systematically learn how to think about the world so that they can become the captain of the ship someday!

I recently read an interesting piece about learned helplessness, which is basically what happens when children learn to allow others to do for them rather than becoming competent in doing things for themselves. The author, Chick Moorman, talked about how the words we use with our children can either foster growth and competence or create a sense of helplessness and entitlement. He uses the term “parent talk” to describe language that empowers and builds competence in children rather than creating helpless attitudes and behavior. While his work focuses on children in general, the concepts can certainly be applied to children on the spectrum – and are very compatible with what we work to accomplish through remediation!

Examples of Parent Talk:
“Let me demonstrate for you.”
“I’ll get started an you can do the rest.”
“Sounds like you have a problem. What have you thought of so far?”

Examples of talk that leads to learned helplessness:
“Let me get that for you.”
“It was raining so I put your bike in the garage.”
“It’s late so I’ll let it go this time.”

Take a few moments to consider what message your language is sending. Are you using parent talk that builds competence and encourages responsibility and independence or are your words creating an attitude of helplessness in your children? True apprentices are not helpless, they are constantly learning through your guidance! If you’d like to look at more information on this subject, including an interesting learned helplessness quiz, check out this link:

Until next week,

Friday, March 9, 2007

Better late than never

I usually post on Fridays first thing in the morning. Well, today (actually this whole week) has been a blur. I was sick early in the week so the end of the week was catching up on everything. We are also in the middle of a lot of big projects right now and I wanted to get something emailed out before the weekend so I was frantically finishing that up today. Needless to say, I had not a moment to spare today to blog. So, now I'm home and relaxed and think that a quote for the weekend should be about relaxation. So, here you go - ENJOY!

"Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer." - William S. Burroughs

Thursday, March 8, 2007


As I was sitting at my computer this morning trying to decide what to blog about today my eye fell on my desk calendar and the word courage jumped out at me. Courage is such a powerful and meaningful word. There are so many things that we do in life that take courage. Some of us have greater stores of courage than others, but we can all find courage when it really counts.

I had the opportunity this week to talk to a mother of a child that is going to be evaluated for autism. This mother said to me she didn’t really care what the label was or if he had autism her biggest concern is that he have friends and social abilities. She is willing to do what it takes to help her son be successful. I saw a lot of courage in this mom to take what life had given her and make the decision to look at the positives her son has and used these to improve the negatives. I have great hope that this child will have a great quality of life.

Courage is what leads us to expand our horizons and give ourselves new and better experiences. Without courage we would all be stuck in a rut.

That is why I love RDI® so much it forces all of us to use our courage everyday. By us I mean not only consultants and parents, but our children on the spectrum as well. I think our children with autism must have great stores of courage just waiting to be tapped into. By using guided participation we ask our children to be courageous, but also provide the support they need to be competent and successful which leads them to be courageous again the next time we ask. How great is that!

So here is to all of you who are using your courage daily to face challenges or try new things.

Talk to you soon,

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Either Row or Get out of the Boat!

Have you ever jumped into a canoe and tried to paddle on your own? What about joining another person and they aren't rowing correctly or you are working harder than the other person? Either you work together or you'll end up spinning in circles, getting nowhere. In order to be successful you need to be able to coordinate your actions and work together. It takes a lot of work! Practice is extremely important in order to figure out appropriate turning techniques and other canoeing strategies. If the person in the back rows too hard, they will begin to turn the boat, if the person in the front is rowing on the wrong side, they could keep the person in the back from being able to steer appropriately. Teamwork and practice are both essential!

The same idea applies with working on correcting the core deficits of autism. Often families enter our Center looking for a quick fix. They want to pay some one to fix their child or run into the school and advocate for them and these things will magically make things better. Others make it to the point of hearing and knowing what they need to do, but choose not to implement it. Some families have one person willing to work hard and are implementing strategies, but the other person drops their role. Others want to become the perfect coach to their child, but don't want to practice or are unable to accept guidance in order to become good at implementing the strategies they've learned into their home. Unfortunately none of the above strategies will get you where you want to be or at least not as quickly as you want!

In order to see progress with your child, a lot of work is essential. you'll never hear any of us say that implementing a remediation life style into your home is easy or fast! The more time you put in, the more practicing that you do, the more mistakes you make (and learn from), the quicker both you and your child will make progress. Sitting back and watching your spouse do the work or hoping that just because you know the stuff that your child will make progress just won't work! Just like with canoeing - you either learn and work together or getting to your goal will take much longer! You may get to your intended location, but not nearly as fast if you haven't practiced, planned and implemented what you've learned.

Do you relate to any of the above scenarios? What will it take for you to get in the boat and row or row more effectively?

Until next week!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Survey Update

Ok - there is no way after yesterday's post that I can top it with a quote to inspire you. So, I thought I'd give you all an update on how our survey is going.

Since word got out about our survey around noon on Wednesday we've had a tremendous reply. I have the privilege of receiving all of the results and compiling them together to see what you are all saying. Even though I've had a full inbox for the last couple of days, I want to thank all of you who have already filled out our survey and want to urge those of you who haven't, to please take just a few minutes to do so. Your opinions do matter and they help us make things better.

So, here's to another full inbox when I return to work on Monday!

Have a good one - and don't forget -

Thursday, March 1, 2007


Recently my sister showed me an inspirational video that I felt not only described the staff, but also the parents we work with at Horizons. The video was entitled 212°.

212° is the point at which water boils. The point being that at 211° water is merely hot, but by going that one extra degree water goes beyond hot to boiling. When applied to life that one extra degree makes all the difference. This is what our parents do when they begin their RDI journey.

The video goes on to say that, “You are responsible for your results.” It also says, “To get what we’ve never had we must do what we’ve never done.” It takes great courage to go that one extra degree that places us beyond ordinary or keeps us in the safe static pattern that we are used to.

I have always prided myself on being the kind of person who gives my all to the things I am passionate about including my family, friends and my work. I feel so blessed to have found people to spend my days with who think and do the same. It is so exciting to work in a 212° environment with 212° coworkers and 212° families. Going that extra degree will make all the difference in the lives of the families we serve. I truly believe this and will continue to give that extra degree.

I would like to leave you with one final quote from the video (which you can check out at the website

“The only thing that stands between a person and what they want in life is the will to try it and the faith to believe it possible.”

Help us go the extra degree and take our instructional program survey. A link to the survey is located on the left.

Talk to you soon,