One of our new SMART Boards

We recently installed three SMART Boards at our Developmental Training Center. SMART Boards are state-of-the-art technology that combine visual displays with touch interaction, leading to an engaging educational experience for users. From the classroom to the boardroom, SMART Boards make learning interactive by being hands-on, flexible, and versatile.

They function as digital whiteboards but also have web browsing and apps. We are thrilled to add this exciting feature to our program suite as a new way for our clients to learn and engage with technology at their own pace and access content that is most interesting to them.

Kitchen Addition
The art of eating

We recently added a second kitchen and café to support our growing Developmental Training program. The goal for the café is to provide a safe space for individuals to practice their communal eating and socializing skills in preparation for applying them in real-world scenarios.

In the kitchen

Adding a second café is a positive sign of program expansion at Rimland. We also had a great time painting the Disney-themed murals that decorate the kitchen!

A second cafe

Understanding neurodiversity: a primer

How much do you know about neurodiversity and the neurodiversity movement? How does autism fit into the conversation? Read on for an essential neurodiversity FAQ.

Presidential Candidate Addresses Autism
South Bend Mayor and candidate for president Pete Buttigieg

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D), a 2020 presidential contender, spoke of the need for educators who understand the nature of autism in an interview Tuesday with the progressive organization Supermajority, adding that increased diagnoses are due to people coming “out of the shadows.”

The Wonderful World of Disney
Right this way!

Our annual client trip took place at the end of September. This year, 11 clients and six staff members traveled to Orlando, Florida, to have some fun at Walt Disney World! A Rimland tradition for more than two decades, the client trip is an experience we are proud to offer.

On our way…

We believe that it is important to provide enjoyable experiences out in the community where clients can relax and rejuvenate, just like anyone else.

At the go-carts

In addition to being a chance to get away and enjoy the area’s attractions and the warm weather, the trip serves as a terrific opportunity for clients to put their skills into practice. They look forward to attending each year and it’s always a blast.

At the beach

Activities this year included go-cart racing, frolicking on the beach, the Hoop-Dee-Do Musical Revue (an entertaining show we attend each year), a tour of Hollywood studios, and Disney’s Spirit of Aloha dinner show.

One of two shows we attended

As an added bonus, clients took a “party bus” to the airport! We just got back, but already, we can’t wait until next year!

Representing Rimland
You Better Shop Around

We have enhanced our snack shop program to include vending machines. We have two primary goals for the snack shop program: to simulate purchasing food in public settings and to encourage healthy eating habits. The vending machines have healthy snacks (and a few treats!), and our clients are enjoying using them. Each client visits the snack shop several times per week to practice their skills, reinforce healthy eating habits, and have a little bit of fun.

Reception Renovations
Ready to welcome you

We recently renovated our reception area, and we are thrilled with the results! As we considered the area where visitors first encounter Rimland, we wanted to ensure that the space represents who we are and reflects renovations we’ve done to the rest of the building. The first order of business was to re-do the flooring. Next, we repainted the walls and adorned them with attractive artwork. Finally, we installed a new reception desk. Post-renovation, the entrance is vibrant, comforting, and most of all, welcoming. HGTV, here we come!

Making Evanston more aware and inclusive
Ebenezer AME Church

On August 10, Executive Director Carolyn Keel represented Rimland at an autism awareness discussion at Evanston’s Ebenezer AME Church. The purpose of the event was to provide a wide range of information on the autism community to members of the church as well as to the broader Evanston community. Carolyn presented information about Rimland’s history and our current programs. Not only is it helpful for Evanston residents to know what autism resources are available, but this kind of exchange is also an important opportunity for the city to be inclusive and to become more aware of its own diversity. Rimland has a longstanding partnership with the city of Evanston and events like these help bring us together. Thank you, Carolyn!

The Gap Map: A New Autism Map points to diagnostic deserts in the US.

Did you know that more than 80% of counties in the United States do not have a diagnostic center for autism?

The Gap Map

Follow the link for the story of the many geographical barriers to receiving a diagnosis of autism, as well as associated services.

Feel of Fortune

We are thrilled to announce that Rimland received a $10,000 Niles Township Grant this year to fund and expand our music and art therapy programs! The Niles Township has been very generous over the years and has provided consistent funding to help us enrich our programming. Past grants have been awarded for physical health initiatives including exercise equipment and gym memberships, but this year we chose to focus on mental health. Funding for the music program will go towards group and private lessons on musical instruments such as guitar and drums. Art funds will go towards expanding our mural program, additional classes, one-to-one attention, and purchasing supplies to create an enhanced sensory experience with different kinds of art. We are extremely grateful for the support of the Niles Township government and look forward to many years of continued partnership for the overall success of our residents.

Soaking Up the Sun
Fun in the sun

Rimland celebrated our annual 4th of July cookout this past month. We love this festive Rimland tradition where we go outside, cook hamburgers and other picnic foods, and enjoy the sunshine. Clients also get dressed up in red, white, and blue, and wear additional decorations such as themed headbands. The weather was beautiful this year and clients even brought blankets to lie in the grass and soak up the sun!

Made in the shade
Kingpins of Rimland!
A Prizewinner!

Special Olympics Region B’s bowling event took place on June 15 at Stardust Bowl in Addison, Illinois. Five Rimland clients participated and did a fantastic job representing Rimland. We are very proud of all who participated and one client even came in second place! Attending Special Olympics is both a tradition and an honor at Rimland, and we are so happy to see so many individuals not only participating, but excelling.

Home and Gardening
Ready to grow!

Now that the weather has turned warm and sunny (sometimes!), clients are beautifying their homes through outdoor gardening projects. Seven clients took a trip to the Meinke Garden Center in Niles to purchase vegetables to plant at one of our homes.

Before going to the garden center, clients spent time in their classes learning about and discussing each vegetable.

Know before you go…

Once they arrived at the garden center, each client was responsible for picking out one vegetable. Their selections included collard greens, kale, large tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, and bell peppers.

A fine choice!

This was a particularly enriching project because it involved education, community engagement, short-term reward (going on an outing), and long-term gratification (the wait until the vegetables are ready to eat). We look forward to incorporating the vegetables into our summer menu!

Planting, growing…
Healthcare Resources for Adults with Autism

Did you know that AASPIRE (Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education at Portland State University) has developed an online healthcare toolkit for adults with autism, their supporters, and healthcare providers? The website focuses on primary healthcare and is meant to improve the healthcare of autistic adults.

Chocked full of health and medical information, exercise tips, worksheets, and checklists, the site is a trove of useful resources to autistic adults and their family members, health providers, and supporters. Visit the Healthcare Toolkit website now.

Planting Seeds of Spring
Working together

Spring is officially here! Well, sometimes. Amid the occasional resurgences of winter weather in Chicago in recent weeks, Rimland clients managed to engage in some wonderful gardening in front of the Developmental Training (DT) site.

Making things grow

With help from our faithful volunteer Mrs. Moltz, clients planted flowers, strawberries, raspberries, parsley, rosemary, and thyme.

Finishing touches

Gardening is a significant sensory exercise that clients participate in not only at DT but at many of the residences as well. We can’t wait to see the plants bloom (if summer ever arrives)!

Major Renovations at Maywood

Our Maywood home recently underwent major renovations to improve the interior and exterior of the home. This is part of our ongoing plan to renovate all residences to higher standards. The home was gutted down to the studs and rebuilt. We removed the sun porch from the front of the home in order to create an expanded living room area. The bathroom was redesigned to include a large walk-in shower that is ADA compliant. The kitchen was also redesigned to meet ADA standards, as were two of the bedrooms. We added a wheelchair lift at the back of the property for increased accessibility. Additionally, we upgraded all appliances to be more self-serving, such as automatic soap dispensers, hand dryers, and Toto toilets. (Hey, maybe it’s time for our own renovations show on HGTV! How about the title “Rimland Rehab”?) Look for “the reveal” in photos in next month’s newsletter!

Progress Report
The piano lesson

Rimland is currently working on our next annual report, which will be released soon. But here’s a preview! These shots feature our expert photographer, Elliot Mandel, taking photos that will be part of the upcoming report.

Elliot captures the artists at work

We look forward to creating these publications as an opportunity to reflect on the past, recommit to our values, and share what we have in store for the future. As an organization built on community, we want to use the annual report to connect to parents, guardians, staff, supporters, and all the clients in our Rimland family. Look out for the annual report in the weeks to come.

April 2 is Autism Awareness Day

For more than a decade, April 2 has been designated as World Autism Awareness Day by the United Nations to help raise public support for research and education initiatives and to increase overall understanding and acceptance of individuals with autism. At Rimland, of course, every day is an opportunity to support individuals with autism and raise awareness in the public sphere.

According to Psychology Today magazine, here are three things we can do to support individuals with autism and their families:

  1. Don’t Judge – Individuals with autism may be judged by others who don’t understand the autism spectrum and attendant behaviors. No matter how constructive you think your advice or criticism may be, be aware that expressing your opinion may do more harm than good.
  2. Support Research Initiatives – Donate to autism research efforts as you are able. Share information with people you know. Keep abreast of the current research topics and findings.
  3. Be There – Some individuals or families may feel isolated and alone when dealing with autism in their midst. They may appreciate a sympathetic ear or someone to ask how they are. Show interest and be ready to listen and offer help where needed.
Water Works

On Saturday, March 22, five individuals from Rimland participated in Special Olympics Illinois’ Region B Swimming (Aquatics) meet at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois. Events featuring Rimland participants included the 25 meter freestyle and the 25 meter backstroke. Two swimmers received silver medals and one received gold for their efforts in their respective events.

Competing in the Special Olympics is a longstanding tradition at Rimland and one we look forward to every year. Participants train throughout the year by attending swim classes and exercising. It’s terrific fun for the swimmers but also for the family and staff members who cheer them on. Congratulations to all the participants and their supporters!

Region B Spring Games, including track and field events, will take place May 4 at Prospect High School in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. We hope to see you there!

Exploring Future Housing Options for Adults with Autism
Autism Community Friendly supporters gather in Normal, IL, on April 28, 2018

Though the range of the autism spectrum is certainly vast, one universal issue individuals with autism face has to do with housing. While Rimland is has been a leader in the effort to provide supportive housing for adults with autism in Chicagoland, other areas of the state are beginning to take action to create housing options for adults with autism. Normal, IL, will be hosting a meeting on March 19th to address the lack of housing for adults with autism in McClean county and to develop action items that will move toward solving the housing crisis in the country. There are an estimated 3,000 individuals with autism in McLean County, and Rimland is glad to see the Normal community taking action to help support these individuals just as we do here in the the Chicagoland area. Follow the link for more on what’s happening in Normal.