Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Horizons Sibling Network (Sibshop)

This past Saturday we held a Sibshop here at Horizons.

What is a Sibshop you ask?

  • Sibshops are events for siblings of kids with special needs to be able to have the opportunity to meet other kids with special needs siblings, form new friendships, and have a lot of fun.

Heather & I had the opportunity to spend 4 hours with 7 kids this past Saturday getting to know these kids, playing games with them, and having lunch with them. We had a great time! We hold our Sibshops every other month on Saturdays, so we hope that others will plan on joining us next time after they see some of the great pictures.






Monday, April 28, 2008

The Importance of Framing and Remediation

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, framing is the process of planning/setting-up an activity to work on a remediation goal. Many of us use portions of this technique day in and day out to plan our days and our interactions with others. Whether you are a veteran RDI parent or are new to the process, framing is a very important component to think about before working with your child with a disability. Here are a few key ideas to think about when planning a remediation activity:

-What do you want to do together?
-What is your goal or objective?
-How will your activity look? What is it about?
-What will each partner be doing?
-How close of a proximity to each other do you need in order to be successful?
-What distractions will be around? How can you eliminate them?
-How much support will your child need?

Whether you are beginning to work on remediation strategies or have moved on to a new objective, thinking about the framing process is essential for the success of your interactions!

Until next week...


Friday, April 25, 2008

Outside Fun & Friends

This past week we've had wonderful weather so we've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time outdoors. We've even had some new friends join us on campus - a family of bunnies! They are the cutest things. They made a nice home right in our garden - good thing they did it before we planted anything. So, enjoy these pictures of the boys exploring the adventure course and a little baby bunny we're watching grow each day!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Core Deficits

Each time I review the core deficits of autism with a new family I feel like I get a deeper understanding of them myself. I recently reviewed them with a family and as I was doing that I started thinking of new and different ways to explain them. I'm not sure if every consultant has this experience or not, but my guess is yes.

I find this to be really exciting because I feel like I am becoming better able to help parents identify how each of the core deficits affects their own child. Which allows me to help them understand why their child has difficulties with certain things such as not being able to share about their day at school.

The other thing that I find exciting is that as I get a deeper understanding of each of the core deficits I spend more time thinking about how I use each of these areas in my own life each day. I find myself using the words "good enough" all the time now. I also find myself thinking about my communication and limiting the amount of questions I use not just with children on the spectrum, but in my conversations with all kids.

I encourage each of you to take a few minutes this next week and think about the core deficits. Maybe you will think about them in relation to your child on the spectrum either how they are still affecting your child or maybe how they have improved in each area. Maybe you will just take a few minutes and think about them in relation to yourself. Either way it is always a good idea to stop and think about the core deficits every once in a while.

Talk to you soon,

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The baby has arrived!

I am thrilled to announce that Michelle and her husband welcomed a baby boy into their family last Wednesday morning. Drew is a very calm and healthy baby, and everyone is adjusting well. Michelle is on maternity leave for the next 6 weeks, but feel free to send her a congratulations email. Betsy and I got to spend time holding Drew today and he is adorable!

Have a great rest of the week,

Monday, April 21, 2008


“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning."

~Maya Angelou

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Language Processing

Over the course of the last month I have been doing some re-newed thinking on language processing. Nicole had Betsy and I test out a processing exercise that she had created for some of her families. She wanted to be sure it would work so we were the guinea pigs. She gave Betsy the easy version and I was stuck with the harder version of the task. Of course Betsy finished within minutes while I took at least 15 minutes to finish mine. For me it was not a matter of if I would finish only when (this wouldn't have anything to do with my being just a bit stubborn :)). Anyway the task took a tremendous amount of brain power and I commented when I was finished that I was tired and my brain felt like it needed a rest.

Leaving that experience I started thinking again about how important it is to remember that many children on the autism spectrum have language processing delays that must in some way make them feel just how I was feeling. The other thing I was thinking about is that I was determined and had the resilience to keep going even though it was hard. How many of our children on the spectrum have this resilience when we first start remediation in the RDI process? Not many.

This is why it is so important to slow down and allow for that processing time. Take away as many distractions as possible and work on one mode of communication at a time for a while.

Can children on the autism spectrum become better processors? You bet they can. I've seen it with my own eyes on numerous occassions it just takes the adults in the environment to be aware that they need to allow time for the child to process. Once your brain starts working on processing information and actually making sense of it the better it gets at doing this. Just like in my example above of the task Nicole gave me I was very slow at first, but once I had processed through a few of the tasks I got faster.

Our children on the autism spectrum can become faster as well if we start giving them the opportunity to process information rather than just accepting any old answer from them, giving them the answer or just prompting all of the time.

So take some time for yourself over the next few days and think about how language processing affects your child and try slowing down a bit to see what happens.

Talk to you soon,

Monday, April 14, 2008

Summer Scoop...Programming for Children with Autism

It's that time of year again! Summer is quickly approaching and here at Horizons we are gearing up for another wonderful summer! For those of you who are unfamiliar with our summer programs, we offer several different options for families who want their child to maintain and improve their skills during the summer. We offer half-day options for children 4-18 who have Autism and other related disorders. Our CAMPS sessions provide our students with educational yet fun experiences related to weekly themes. Our Collaborate-Create group is formatted for older children to work on creative thinking/problem solving skills while having fun creating a variety of different items. In each of our summer programs, elements of the RDI program are used to facilitate communication and understanding. For more information on our summer programs, please click on the link below. Space is filling up quite quickly, so please reserve your child's spot in one of our summer programs today!


If you have any questions in regards to our summer programs, please feel free to contact the office. Have a wonderful week!


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hard Work and Time

“Nothing will work unless you do.”
“All great achievements require time.”

Both of these quotes are by poet and writer Maya Angelou. I find many of her quotes very inspiring, but when I read these two quotes I immediately thought of RDI®.

When I looked at the first quote I thought about how RDI® takes work. This is not just some program where you as the parent bring your child somewhere drop them off and come back an hour later after the therapist has “done” something with him/her. In RDI® if you really want to see results and build true relationships that lead to a quality of life for your child you need to put the work in. The other thing that amazes me is that you can really tell when families are putting work into their program because the child starts to master objectives as a steady pace. I love to see this happen. Remediation works when the family puts work into it.

The second quote actually made me think of one of my favorite Dr. Gutstein quotes “RDI® is a marathon not a sprint.” To achieve something truly great it takes a lot of time and hard work. To have a true quality of life it requires that we work at it every day. Do not be daunted by the time it takes every minute you spend is worth it.

Put on your running shoes and prepare to work hard to as you run the marathon of remediation. Your achievements will be great in the end!

Talk to you soon,

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Family Autism Treatment Scholarships

Right now in Michigan there is an insurance parity law attempting to make it's way through the legislature. The bills call for coverage of autism and related conditions, including a variety of therapies. While there is much I could write about this topic, and the Michigan legislation in particular, I'll save that for another day. The reason I bring it up in this post is because this legislation spotlights the significant need many families (in Michigan and everywhere else) have for financial support of treatment for their children.

In the absence of state or insurance-funded financial support for treatment, families are left to pay out-of-pocket. While this is an option for many families, it is not an option for others. This is why scholarship funds, such as the RDI® Scholarship Fund, are so important. These groups provide families that have significant financial limitations access to funding for treatment. The RDI® Fund specifically supports families who wish to pursue Relationship Development Intervention (RDI®) treatment. Like the majority of scholarship funds, there are far more families requesting funding than there are funds to go around.

In an effort to increase awareness about autism, remediation, RDI®, and the RDI® Scholarship Fund, we are proud to be providing donations to the scholarship fund this month (National Autism Awareness Month). For every person who signs up for our weekly email newsletter, On the Horizon, at www.horizonsautism.com, we will make a donation to the scholarship fund. If you haven't already signed up for the newsletter - please click here now and help us reach our goal of 1,000 new subscribers this month!! We also encourage you to pass this information along to everyone you know who can benefit. You are not only helping to spread the word about remediation, but you are also helping support the much-needed RDI® Scholarship Fund.

Until next week,

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spring Break Survival

Many families here is West Michigan are gearing up for spring break, which for most starts today. For those of you who are not traveling, here are a few ideas and activities to keep your kids and yourself busy and happy during spring break:

~Spring Cleaning--Have everyone help clean/organize the house. It could be fun to work as a family and go room to room together. It is amazing what you can find under cushions or in the back of the closet!

~Yard Work--Now that the snow is hopefully done for the season, it might be a good time to get outside and clean up your yard. You could rake leaves, pull weeds, till dirt, and plan what you will plant in order to get ready for the spring and summer seasons.

~Smoke Alarms--It is important to check/change the batteries in your smoke detectors several times per year. You could work as a team to check/change the batteries.

~Sort Clothes--Now that spring is approaching, it is a good time to go through your clothes from last year and see what fits and what does not.

~Cook Creatively--There are so many different recipes available online now that it is easy to find something that sounds good and is different than the normal family dinner. You can choose a recipe a cook together.

Hope you find these ideas helpful during spring break!


Friday, April 4, 2008

Summer Programs 2008

We offer a great Summer Program here at Horizons. We're very excited about this summer as it sounds like it's going to be filled with a lot of fun! All of the information is found on our website and you can even register online as well, or if you'd rather have me mail you the information you can call the office at any time as well too because maybe you have additional questions. We hope you will join us this summer.


* Summer Fun CAMPS Sessions for Children
* Group Activities for Teens
* Parent Groups
* Feeding Therapy
* Individualized Instruction Program

Information & Registration online

Registration Deadline—May 30, 2008
3120 68th Street SE * Caledonia, MI 49316 * info@horizonsdrc.com
(616) 698-0306

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Taking a Break

Taking a break is so critical for all of us. Many of the schools in this area will be starting their spring breaks tomorrow. Many others around the country have just had break or will have a break coming shortly. I have often thought about how spring break came to be, but after the many years working in the schools I know how important this break is. After the long winter months without a break both the adults and children need some time to rest and regroup.

We all need breaks to rest and be refreshed. Even if you don’t work in a school I’m sure you feel the need for short breaks throughout your year. Although I will only be taking a few days off next week I am looking forward to a break. My mind needs a rest and a chance to refresh.

As difficult as it may be for those of you with children on the spectrum to find a time for a break I think it is so very important even if the break is a 30 minute trip to the mall or a walk around the block. This is critical for you.

Please take some time over the next week to take a break. Refresh, regroup and look at your situation anew.

Talk to you soon,

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Autism Awareness Month 2008

In honor of Autism Awareness Month 2008, Horizons Developmental Remediation Center is helping to raise funds for the RDI Scholarship Fund. For every person who signs up to receive our free weekly email newsletter, Horizons will make a donation to the Scholarship Fund.

On the Horizon is a free weekly email newsletter for parents and others affected by autism / developmental disabilities who want simple, effective strategies to reduce stress, support their child's development, and improve quality of life for the whole family.

The link to sign up is www.horizonsautism.com . Sign-up today and forward this information on to everyone you know who can benefit. Let's spread the word about autism remediation, support the scholarship fund, and help families who need financial help to access treatment!

Take Care of YOU Tuesday - Read Something Fun

I do a lot of reading in a week. I read textbooks and articles for the courses I am taking. I read autism research. I read reports from other clinicians. I read education journals. I read books to my kids. You get the picture - lots of reading.

Then there's the list of books I want to read someday - books that people have recommended, books that I have seen on TV or in a magazine that look interesting, books that people have loaned me - lots of books I want to read.

In the business of life I always read the stuff that has to get read, but I don't often make time for the things I truly want to read. Sometimes I just want to read a gossip magazine, a great new novel, or something completely different from what I immerse myself in for work. There are a few times when I know I'll get time for fun reading - when I'm getting a pedicure, getting my hair colored (I'm not naturally quite this blond!), or when I'm sitting on an airplane. When my colleagues and I travel together, we all buy different magazines and then trade throughout the flight. It feels good to just sit there and read about shoes, jewelry, home decor, and whatever happens to be going on in Hollywood that week!

I have decided that if I don't make some time for reading the stuff I want to read, it doesn't happen. In her book The Seven Minute Difference, Allyson Lewis says that if we just read 10 pages a day, in one month's time we can finish an entire 300 page book! We all have time to sit down and read 10 pages - even if it's every-other day. So, I'm starting to carve out small times throughout the week to read things I want to read - not just the stuff I have to read. I'm encouraging you this week to do the same. Pull out something you have been wanting to read and commit to spend a few minutes each day reading. If you'd like to, post a comment to share what you're reading. Maybe you'll give someone else an idea for what they can read next!

Until next week,