Thursday, March 27, 2008

Decisions

I think I may be on some type of theme for my blogs lately. I have been thinking a lot this week about decisions. Not only my own decisions that I have been facing this past week, but also the decisions that others around me have been faced with. Why is decision making so difficult? Why do we all struggle so much with making some of the decisions in our life? I think this first quote says it all.

Decisions are the endless uncertainties of life that we'll not know if they’re right until the very end, so do the best you can and hope its right. Lily Collins

I think decisions are so difficult for many of us because of the uncertainty. Are we making the right choice or will we stray off the correct path? As the quote says we cannot know until the very end so we must do the best we can and hope it is right. Sometimes we make a decision that doesn’t turn out as we expected, but I think we always learn something from the decisions we make so in my opinion that is sometimes better than always making the “right” decision. I know many of you as parents faced the hardest decision of your life when you were searching for the best remediation program for your child. I have to guess that the majority of you have great hope that RDI® was the right choice. I believe it was, but only you can know that in the end. I have met with a lot of parents recently that are at the point of making this decision for their child and family and I am sure they are feeling uncertain, but hopeful at the same time. I know the decisions that I have been thinking about recently have made me feel this same way. This leads me to my second quote for this week.

The roads we take are more important than the goals we announce. Decisions determine destiny. Frederick Speakman

How true is this quote? Our goal in RDI® is to obtain a quality of life for people with autism spectrum disorders, but what we come to understand as we work through the remediation process is that it is the journey toward the quality of life that is so important and not so much the destination. You can only reach your destiny by first making the decision and then continuing to make decisions along the way.

What will our destinies be? Only the future decision we make can provide that answer. Making decisions can be scary and uncertain, but how can we know what is at the end of the road or reach our destiny if we are too afraid to make the decisions that lead us there.

What decisions are facing you? I challenge each of you to make that decision that has been hanging out there and start on your new path. You might just find that it is fun and exciting.

Talk to you soon,
Erin

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Girl's Night Out

I had the wonderful opportunity to join several friends for coffee tonight. I traveled with these same friends to New York City last fall and we try to get together about once a month just to have a girls' night out. What a refreshing time it always is! Between the 8 of us we have 21 children under the age of 8 with 2 babies due in a few weeks, so you can imagine how busy our lives are! It's not always easy to coordinate, but we do try to make it a priority. What a joy it's been to celebrate each one of these 21 births with a group of friends and to have such a wonderful support group during each one of my children's births - I know I'll be receiving a bunch of frozen dinners and new baby clothes in the upcoming weeks! Are you taking time for yourself, to escape and just be with the girls or the guys? What about taking time for a date with your spouse? These little outings are so important! If you don't have anything planned, figure out a way to make it happen. I know I'm always able to face the stresses of my week better after a little time away!

Enjoy a night out this week!
Michelle

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Take Care of YOU Tuesday - Get Yourself Some Flowers


Anyone else out there feel like no one ever brings you flowers anymore? I used to get flowers more often...and now not so much (hint-hint to my husband if he is reading this :). Actually, in the summer I get lots of little mangled bouquets of flowers (okay, maybe more like weeds) from my kids. And I stick them all in little cups of water until they wilt and have to be thrown out. So I shouldn't say that I never get flowers anymore!

Anyway, flowers are such a great pick-me-up - they brighten our home / office and our attitude. I say if other people don't bring you flowers - go get some for yourself! Buy a colorful bunch of flowers from the grocery store and stick them in a vase you have (if you're like me you may have to do some digging around in the dark corners of your cupboards or closets...but they are there!). Set them in a spot where you will see them frequently - and enjoy the smile and pleasant episodic memories they bring to you.

Until Next Week,
Nicole

Monday, March 24, 2008

Steps Towards Remediation

Over the past several weeks, I have heard comments from several professionals and parents alike who are unsure about remediation and whether or not it will benefit their child. I came across this quote today while working and thought it was very fitting. I would like to encourage everyone to keep moving forward and to learn a little bit more each and everyday. If you stand still, you will get left behind.

“Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful."

~Mark Victor Hansen

Keep your footsteps moving forward and your eyes looking to the horizon. Until next time...

Courtney

Friday, March 21, 2008

Horizons Awesome Website

If you haven't checked it out lately - you really should. For those of you who visit our blog from beyond our Horizons family you really need to check out all the awesome things that are available to you on our awesome website. We offer this great free report right on our homepage, then there are a bunch of other reports on a whole list of other great topics on the Helpful Resources page, our Horizons Store that features awesome products like our new Explorations in Eating calendar and companion Food Journal, and then all kinds of information on the great programs that we have to offer. There's so much more but this will get you started. It's great! Well, I hope you take a tour of our website to see all the many things we have to offer you.
-Betsy

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Life

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.

Life is beauty, admire it.

Life is bliss, taste it.

Life is a dream, realize it.

Life is a challenge, meet it.

Life is a duty, complete it.

Life is a game, play it.

Life is a promise, fulfill it.

Life is sorrow, overcome it.

Life is a song, sing it.

Life is a struggle, accept it.

Life is a tragedy, confront it.

Life is an adventure, dare it.

Life is luck, make it.

Life is too precious, do not destroy it.

Life is life, fight for it.

Mother Teresa

No matter which one of these descriptions of life describes you at the moment embrace it. Each of us will experience all of these phases of life at some point along our journey. Sometimes we become stuck in one phase or another for longer periods of time, but we always come out the other side and move on to a new phase. Isn’t that what makes life interesting and fun?

As I read through all of these I was trying to decide which statement was my favorite and I think I decided that I liked two of the statements equally the last line Life is life, fight for it! and Life is a promise, fulfill it.

I have always tried to live my life to the fullest and to follow the path the makes me happy and makes the most sense to me at the time. Sometimes this can be a fight to do what is best for me and not just what I think will make others happy.

As I read through this quote I was thinking that I need to renew my promise to myself to live my life to its fullest.

How about all of you? Which one of these life statements touches you and rings true? If you feel like sharing please make a comment. I would love to hear from you.

Talk to you soon,
Erin

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Remediation Works!

It has happened several times over the past month. I'll have a parent say something to me about what their child with autism is doing and I begin to chuckle. The story will align perfectly with the developmental stage the family is working in. I don't know why it surprises me every time, but I continue to stand amazed by how remediation is changing these children! It never gets old to see the progress the kids are making and I always enjoy the stories the families share. One story, for example, is a 6 year old boy who is working in a developmental stage of a 3 year old. The parents shared today that they would like to see their son have friends. I shared with them that my almost 3 year old daughter's best friend right now is her big sister and that she is beginning to play appropriately with her cousin of the same age, but outside of that doesn't have friends. At the 3 year old developmental level we are looking for a beginning understanding of friendships as children transition from parallel play into a shared, co-regulatory experience.

This family shared that their son is playing very well and comfortably with his little brother and is starting a simple relationship at school. It's amazing how a year ago he was unable to understand even the beginning steps of friendship. Now as the family is working on this stage in development they are beginning to see these friendships naturally start to form, starting with his sibling and moving into those outside the home! Once they saw this parallel with a neuro-typical child they were ok with the point their son was. They understood that as they continue to move through objectives and as their son builds competence with friendships in safe settings, he will be able to develop more friendships.

Many families come to us stating that they want their child to have friends and that's one of the first things they want to work on. We often need to explain that as we move through the developmental stages, they will see this naturally happening, but we won't focus on that specifically. Families who have been in the program for a while will attest to the fact that this is indeed true. It's so cool to watch remediation work!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Take Care of You" Tuesday!



I'm going to start a new theme for moms on my Tuesday blog posts - "Take Care of You!" Each week I will post a reminder / suggestion to take care of yourself. Too often as moms (especially those of you who are moms to children with disabilities) we are so busy taking care of other people that we neglect ourselves. This is not good! We are much less beneficial to the people around us, our children included, when we aren't taking good care of ourselves. I see too many moms who are not taking care of their basic needs each day - eating meals, getting sleep, showering regularly - and it takes a toll on how they feel and how they function.

One of the side-effects of treatment I see for the families at our office is that moms begin taking more time to care for themselves. As families progress in treatment, and the crisis fades away, I notice more moms doing their hair regularly, putting on some make-up, allowing themselves to sit in our waiting room and read a gossip or fashion magazine - doing things that make them feel good about themselves and allow them to have some fun!

Some of you may be asking yourselves how I can possibly think this is important when there are so many obstacles you face with your children and so many other things that need to get accomplished in a day. Here's what I know about myself - when I look bad, I feel bad...when I don't take care of my basic needs, I am less effective at taking care of my family's needs...when I don't take at least a little time for myself, I get crabby and resentful...and with all of these things comes a sense of guilt because I know I am not functioning the way I want to for myself or my family.

So - in the spirit of encouraging all of us moms to take some time for ourselves and to do things that makes us feel good about ourselves, I'm going to give a suggestion or idea for you to fit into your schedule on a weekly basis.

This week - FINGER NAILS
When is the last time you really looked at your finger nails? Nails are the kind of thing that we often forget about, but the people we interact with see them all day long...and, let's face it, they can get pretty shabby looking at times! Even if you have a tendency to bite your nails, some routine maintenance can still be beneficial. This week let's all take a look at our hands/nails and spend a few minutes sprucing them up. Give them a good scrub with soap and sugar to get rid of dry skin (and with the winter we have had in Michigan - our hands are DRY!). Pick out a great-smelling lotion and moisturize those freshly-scrubbed hands. Take a nail file and shape your nails however you like them. If you like polish on your nails then go ahead and take the time to do that too! Even if you don't like color polish, a quick coat of clear polish makes them nice and bright and no one will notice when it starts to wear off! When you're done your hands will feel great, your nails will look better, and your outlook on the day will be a little brighter because you took some time to do something good for yourself.

I'm off to take care of my nails...until next week,
Nicole

Monday, March 17, 2008

Our Dynamic World...

During my ride home from work this evening, I found myself in an interesting situation that I have never been in before. I was driving down a very busy road in our neighborhood approaching an intersection when I noticed headlights moving slowly towards me. Someone was driving down the wrong side of the road and apparently was unaware of the trouble he or she was creating for oncoming traffic. Having never been in a situation like this, I was amazed by the situation and the dynamics of our world. I quickly realized that I needed to decide what I was going to do. I quickly turned onto a side street as the car passed me, still on the wrong side of the road. I sat there for a minute thinking about what had happened, the choices I made, and the dynamics of the situation. It is amazing just how dynamic our world can be! This is just one more reason why dynamic thinking is so crucial!

Drive Safely!

Courtney

Friday, March 14, 2008

Horizons Friends Having Fun

These are my 3 favorite friends playing their favorite game - SORRY! As they were playing I asked if I could take their picture and this is what they did - YES - 3 different facial expressions! It was great! We truly enjoy having them around. To find out more about what they do and what we do here at Horizons, check out our website - we just have way to much fun here - we know you'd want to get in on the fun too!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Supervision

As many of you know Nicole, Michelle and I are all supervisors for the Connections Center. I find this to be a wonderful complement as well as a great responsibility. I have a part in contributing to the RDI® consultant community. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to assist in determining if consultants in training are prepared to become certified. Sometimes it can seem to be a daunting task as we are upholding the integrity of RDI® itself.

Having said all of that over the past few months I have had the great pleasure of supervising a trainee that I have seen wonderful growth in. It has been really fun for me to see how she has grown as a consultant and the difference she has made in the life of the family she is working with. When she first started she was nervous and not completely sure of herself, but she has really worked very hard, taken my suggestions and followed through with each assignment I have given. She has asked wonderful insightful questions that show me she is really thinking about what she is doing with her family. She has gained confidence and competence over the past few months and I truly look forward to watching each new tape she sends me.
When she completes her supervision process in a few months I will truly be proud to call her a colleague. I know that I have learned a lot during this process and hope that I will be an effective guide for many trainees in the future.

Talk to you soon,
Erin

Monday, March 10, 2008

Noticing Differences

For those of you who do not know, I recently had knee surgery and have been out of commission for a couple of weeks so I apologize for my lack of blogs. I have been slowly making my way back to working full time in my special education classroom with the use of a wheelchair; which has been a slow process, needless to say. As a teacher, I have been working on self awareness and experience sharing communication recently with my students. This morning, one of my students came into the classroom and noticed that I was standing up with my crutches. With the most sincere look and grin he said "Miss Courtney, your legs are working again. I am so glad they are fixed" and then went about his business. I stood there for a moment and took in what had just occurred. For this little boy to notice me and then comment on my condition was such an amazing moment as he has not done this in the past. This once again is a little glimpse of how powerful working on remediation can be. It put a smile on my face for the rest of the day and made the gimping around less painful.

Until next week...

Courtney

Friday, March 7, 2008

Awesome Pictures

I invite you to check out our awesome photo gallery on our website. I'll leave a few pictures here for you to get a sample of what you can find there. On our photo gallery we post pictures of events that happen at our center and just pictures of things from around the office. We hope you will check them out so you get an idea of some things that go on around Horizons.




Thursday, March 6, 2008

Initiative

I had the great pleasure of sitting in on one of my students conferences yesterday. The spring conferences at our local middle school are student led meaning that each student talks about themselves in terms of what they have learned during the year and things they like about each of their classes.

What was so unique about this particular conference was that this student did all of it on his own. He doesn’t have regular conferences like the other students because his mom attends team meetings so her conference is held during this time. Because of this no one thought to talk to this student about putting together his power point for his conference. Well he heard some other students talking about their power point one day last week and he came home after school that day, grabbed his sister’s laptop and went to his room. When he emerged from his room he had created his entire power point for his student led conference.

He attended the team meeting with his mom yesterday and presented his power point to his teacher and me. It was great and he even included animation and sound effects. Now his grammar wasn’t perfect, but each slide had a heading and three bullet points which were clear enough to understand his though process. I loved it!

If this isn’t a perfect example of initiative I don’t know what is. I can’t tell you how incredibly proud I am of this student and what RDI has done for him. Incredibly awesome!

Talk to you soon,
Erin

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Great Camera Option

For those of you involved in our fabulous RDI® program, we have found a wonderful video camera that is affordable, easy to use and very compatible with the RDIos. The Flip camera is a great option for families doing RDI® and looking for an easy solution to video taping and uploading. Below is a quick video of one of my daughter's dolls. It took me about 2 seconds to record, a minute to get on my computer and about a minute to add to this entry. If you'd like to see it and give it a try, stop by our office, we'd love to show you ours!
Michelle

video

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Got Feeding Issues?


This post is for any parent or teacher who struggles with how to help a child who is a picky eater or a child with a diagnosed feeding problem. These problems can be so tough to deal with - especially in our society where eating is such a big part of what we do! Eating is a social activity, and typically one that happens numerous times throughout the day. For kids with eating issues (and the adults around them) this can mean major portions of the day spent stressed out about food. It's not fun for anyone, and there can be very real health consequences!

Over the years I've worked with many children who have feeding problems - ranging from picky eaters to kids with actual feeding disorders. Many of the children I see on the autism spectrum have some degree of feeding issues. There are so many things that lead to successful feeding - sensory development, cognitive skills, appraisal and flexible thinking, attention and focus...and the list goes on. I've learned that successful feeding requires a hierarchy of skills that we rarely even consider. We generally think about it as a two-step process - sit down and eat. When helping a child who has feeding issues, however, it is vitally important to consider all the required developmental steps, and work on them in a systematic way that is comfortable for the child.

To help with that process, I am very proud to introduce a new product in our Horizons line-up!
Explorations in Eating: 365 Memory Making Opportunities for Expanding Your Food Horizons was created by my friend and colleague, Erin Roon, and is available now for pre-ordering. This awesome calendar and journal set will help any family member or professional struggling to help a child with feeding issues. You can get the details now in our on-line store. Also, in case you missed it, Erin wrote the feature article in this week's newsletter - Picky Eater or Problem Feeder. You'll definitely want to read the entire article! While you're on our site, be sure to sign up for the free report so you can receive our weekly newsletter right to your email box.

Until next week,
Nicole