COVID-19 Update 3.31.20

Dear Rimland Family & Friends, 

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, we remain committed to the safety of our clients and staff through vigilant processes and communications. Our core focus is performing daily health screenings of individuals and employees; we are happy to report that at this time everyone is in good health and not displaying any COVID-19 symptoms. Deep-cleanings and sanitizations are conducted daily at all of our locations, per the Department of Human Services and CDC guidelines. In addition to this core focus, we are continuing in-home exercise programs to promote the physical and mental wellbeing of the individuals we support. 

Now that we have adjusted to our new routines, we begin to look forward and plan for the continued safety of everyone at Rimland once the significant danger has passed. We thoroughly participate in social distancing practices and are doing our part for the greater community by staying home and staying active. Our policies will adapt to the ever-changing situation, and we will keep you informed of updates as they occur. We welcome any support you are able to provide during this time, whether financially or in-kind. We will get through this as a united organization and are looking forward to the day when we can all come together again and celebrate.  


Pamela Watson 

COVID – 19 Update 3.24.20

Dear Rimland Parents & Guardians, 

We would like to provide you with an update regarding the steps we are taking to promote the emotional and physical well-being of Rimland individuals during the COVID-19 outbreak. We have scheduled daily exercise, to last at least 30 minutes per day, that includes activities such as: 

  • Walking 
  • Yoga 
  • Backyard games (weather permitting) 
  • Cookouts (weather permitting) 
  • Dancing to streamed music concerts on Fridays 

As Spring approaches and the weather gets warmer, we will work to include more outdoor types of activities such as gardening. We understand the importance of consistent exercise and have established this program to enable opportunities to get active while providing options to promote individual choice. 

We are continuing to perform daily health screenings that include temperature checks and monitoring for flu-like symptoms. Those with medically complex health concerns are being monitored more closely by our RNs and AEDs who know them best. As always, we are grateful for your continued trust in our leadership.  


Pamela Watson 

COVID – 19 Update 3.18.20

A letter from the CEO:

Dear Rimland Friends, Family, and Stakeholders, 

With each passing day, we adapt to the impact COVID-19 is having on our Rimland community and the world at large. It seems at times as if there is no end in sight, yet we must commit to pushing forward and maintaining our character even when it is the most challenging.  

Our Direct Support Professionals have always been the heart of Rimland. Simply put, we cannot function without them. Due to the current circumstances, we have increased wages in order to provide round the clock care through April and beyond. In addition to requiring unique skillsets to support our individuals, this is a high-risk position that mandates the highest levels of professionalism and caution to keep us all safe. In addition to caring for Rimland individuals, many of our DSPs are also caring for their family members, including young children. This puts an additional burden on them, ranging from caring for grandparents to finding childcare while schools are closed. Though unexpected expenses can hit anyone hard, our DSPs are disproportionately impacted by COVID – 19.  

For this reason, we are reaching out to you and asking for your financial support. Even a little bit goes a long way during times of need. This is an unprecedented situation Rimland is facing and your support is needed now more than ever. Payments can be made securely through our website, or mailed in by check. If you are unable to support us financially, please consider donating supplies such as personal protective equipment, toilet paper, soap, paper towels, and other household items.  

On behalf of everyone at Rimland, thank you for your contributions and continued trust in us as we navigate this challenge. 


Pamela Watson 

COVID – 19 Update 3.17.20

Great news coming from Evanston Hospital! They have developed in-house testing for COVID – 19 that is able to test more people while providing same day results. This will help doctors make better decisions about which patients need to be isolated and which can be sent home. Read more about it here:

COVID – 19 Update 3.16.20

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Rimland Stakeholders,

As an additional precaution, we are currently in the process of purchasing “no touch” thermometers in order to safely check temperatures for all Rimland individuals and employees. These thermometers do not require physical touch from person to person, as an added level of precaution. This protocol not only includes our Direct Support Professionals, but our Administrative team as well. Our Health & Wellness team will be performing daily temperature checks for everyone at Rimland.  Anyone with a temperature above 100 degrees will be directed to the head of our Health & Wellness team for further evaluation. 

Thank you for your continued support and trust in our organization. 

COVID – 19 Update 3.13.20

Dear Parents, Guardians, and all Rimland Stakeholders, 

Yesterday, we provided you with information on how Rimland is actively addressing the COVID – 19 pandemic. In an effort to remain transparent, we are providing you with an update today. All is well at Rimland and we are continuing to monitor the situation as it unfolds. The processes we have put into place, and CDC guidelines, are helping us mitigate risk and stay safe. These include the following: 

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or with alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. 
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with tissue, then discard tissue in the trash 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

We also learned yesterday that a citizen who attended the Unitarian Church tested positive for COVID – 19. While this is an inherent threat to the community, we can confirm that no Rimland individuals or clients were at this location. Social Distancing practices will remain in effect for all non-essential outings. This is not just for the protection of everyone at Rimland, but an effort to do our part for the larger community. Video conferencing can be made available for families wanting to communicate with their loved ones, please contact us to schedule a time. As of today, in Illinois there are 46 positive cases, 316 negative cases, and 82 pending cases. Our social distancing policy will remain in effect until we see a significant downward trend in positive and pending cases.  

Rimland is supplied with household necessities at all of our locations. If you would like to contribute to helping us keep our locations stocked, you can donate items such as paper towels, toilet paper, soap, and personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, etc.). If necessary, individuals will be quarantined based on a physician’s recommendation. This will be determined on a case by case basis, most likely in a hospital or medical facility. Our Health & Wellness Department will maintain communication with the parents & guardians of any affected individuals.  

We will continue to provide updates as the situation progresses, and thank you for doing your part to reduce the spread of COVID – 19. 

COVID – 19 Update 3.12.20

As news continues to spread regarding the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus, please be assured that the health and well-being of your loved one and their staff is Rimland’s top priority.  The situation surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a rapidly emerging and fluid challenge.  We are closely monitoring the latest developments and following the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

Rimland would like to make you aware of several precautions and preventative measures we are undertaking to ensure the health and safety of your loved ones while under Rimland’s care.   We have added additional staff members to our cleaning team and have increased cleaning cycles of commonly touched surfaces (door handles, countertops, desks, etc.).   Our transition zones such as waiting areas, hallways, medication pass zones, and the Health & Wellness department have been assigned a designated staff member to provide additional and rigorous disinfecting and sanitizing support. Rimland continues to use hospital- grade disinfectant.    We have increased antibacterial hand sanitization stations and signage throughout the building.  Rimland staff members are cleaning and disinfecting all Rimland ride vehicles to and from our facility.  Visitors entering reception are screened for flu like symptoms and travel information before gaining access to our building or visiting with our clients. As an additional safeguard, Rimland has temporarily canceled all client outings, limiting your loved ones exposure to outside illnesses.  We have also canceled any non-emergency dental and medical appointments until further notice.  We will reschedule individual appointments as soon as it is advisable.

Our Health and Wellness department continues to monitor your loved ones health on a daily basis.  On- the -spot wellness assessments are conducted each morning by our Health and Wellness team, which is headed by Barbara Cooper, RN and fully staffed by licensed RN’s, CNA’s and LPN’s.  Any presentation of flu-like symptoms are immediately addressed, identified, and attended to.  Family members will be notified immediately if any of your loved ones present with any flu-like symptoms.  Symptomatic clients will be monitored at home under the direct care of their Direct Support Professional.  To mitigate the risk of spreading any illness, clients will not return to the Developmental Training Center until cleared by our Health and Wellness team or their personal physician. 

We are encouraging all staff to take common-sense health precautions recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While we appreciate the incredible dedication of our Direct Support Professionals, we are reminding them to please stay home if they are sick.

Rimland has instructed our staff to follow the below practices as to minimize the spread of any respiratory virus including COVID-19:

·         Cover your cough or sneeze with tissue, then discard tissue in the trash

·         Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or with alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Rimland will continue to closely monitor this situation in the days and weeks to come.  We will continue to take guidance and follow recommended protocol from the CDC and IDPH to make sure we maintain a safe and healthy environment for your loved ones. 

New Wheels
Our new ride!

On January 6, Rimland received three minivans from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) resulting from our 2018 IDOT grant application. These are brand new 2019 Dodge minivans with superb safety features. Rimland has always been committed to getting involved in community events and these vans make that possible. The vans are used not only for driving from our residences across the region to our Developmental Training Center, but also to attend community events such as festivals, movie theaters, and trips to the beach.

New Year, New Fitness Goals

Our Health and Wellness employee program has been going strong for five years and provided countless gym memberships and wellness incentives to our employees. After five years of partnership with LA Fitness, we are excited to announce a new partnership with XSport Fitness. Their locations are 24 hours, which help meet the needs of our employee schedules. Additionally, XSport Fitness allows employees to bring a guest with them each time, which makes working out all the more engaging. Locations have pools, free classes, and many more great amenities. We can’t wait to break a sweat!

A Special Relationship
Equestrian Connection

Our very own client Sal has been working hard to support a program near and dear to him. In the summer of 2016, Sal spent an afternoon at Equestrian Connection in Lake Forest, Illinois, where he had the chance to ride horseback, help around the barn, and learn a little more about horses. This day had such an impact on him that Sal started taking riding lessons and helping to take care of the horses on a regular basis. Fast forward several years later and Sal has become an important member of the Equestrian Connection community. In 2019, Sal saved all of his money from working at the barn to purchase 25 hay nets and 150 bales of hay for all the horses at the barn! Thank you so much Sal! 

A New Year’s Message from CEO Pamela Watson

Dear Rimland Family and Friends,

I would like to kick off the new year by extending a heartfelt thank you to all of our stakeholders who have helped shape the support we provide to adults with classic autism. We remain committed to achieving ambitious goals in the year 2020. 

The majority of adults supported by Rimland Services experience a higher severity of autism characteristics and are particularly vulnerable to a defined Quality of Life ((QoL). Our overriding objectives this year will be focused on increasing access to community-based living options and providing support to improve QoL.

We will address the following urgent priorities: improving healthcare, increasing awareness of how sensory input and social challenges will impact support across the lifespan, and integrating technology-assisted support with personal direct supports. 

Even as we pursue these ambitious goals on behalf of the individuals we support, we are elevating the standard for evaluating successful outcomes. We will also partner with stakeholders to identify and develop long-term strategies for supporting the autism community in the future.

With intention and forethought, our team of professionals teach, advocate for, sustain, and are steadfast in their commitment to the individuals we support.

Once again, thank you for the vital role you play in our day-to-day services.

Best wishes for the New Year,

Pamela Y. Watson

What We Can Learn from the Parents of High-Support Autistic Individuals

Having a disabled child is not particularly rare: Fourteen percent of U.S. public school students in 2017-2018 received special education services. Yet our society rarely addresses disability as a real parenting possibility, which means non-disabled parents like me are usually in the dark about best practices for raising a child with a disability. This state of ignorance is unfair to everyone involved and has made countless kids and parents miserable.

It really doesn’t have to be this way, though. After my son was diagnosed as autistic when he was 3, we embarked through a long, painful learning process to get to a state of acceptance and (relative) peace. No one should have to repeat our steep learning curve, so I’m sharing what made all the difference for us: Discovering, and listening to the insights of autistic adults.

Parents need to hear from people who have lives similar to what our children will experience. These adults can warn us about avoidable mistakes, and they can counter our assumptions about what it means to live a good life — even when that life is complicated.

What autism researchers and advocates want for people on the spectrum
An individual with autism and his mother work with researchers Wendy J. Ross, MD at Jefferson Health’s Center for Autism and Neurodiversity

Greta Thunberg has recently drawn attention for being named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year and she has openly talked about how her Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis makes her different, and how being different is a superpower.

In politics, Democratic candidate Joshua Collins is running for Congress and would be the first openly autistic member if elected.

With more people on the autism spectrum being open about their diagnoses, we talked to a researcher and an advocate about what should be part of the discussion around autism today.

Holiday Happenings
The welcome table.

We closed out 2019 in style, with a celebration of the end-of-year holidays and our annual Parent-Client Luncheon.  

A time to celebrate and to reflect.

At the end of November, we had another fun celebration with our traditional Thanksgiving party. Each year, we cater all of our clients’ favorite Thanksgiving foods such as turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and of course some apple pie for dessert! Staff pitched in to decorate our Developmental Training Center with streamers and posters, and it was so nice to see everyone get dressed up for this special meal. In the spirit of being thankful, we would like to recognize all of our hardworking employees who worked on Thanksgiving and spent time with their Rimland family. We couldn’t do this without you!

Delivering delicious dishes.

For the Parent-Client Luncheon on December 20, our headquarters was festively adorned with holiday lights and glittery ornaments decorated by our clients and hung brightly from the ceilings. The clients came sharply dressed in holiday attire and ready to celebrate in high fashion! Parent volunteer Mrs. Ann Moltz greeted our visitors at the door and showcased holiday candles and cards created with love by our clients. We were overwhelmed by the generous donations for these small offerings! The conference room was transformed into a winter wonderland complete with special “photo booth walls” for our clients and guests to create some great family memories. After a delicious lunch of mostaccioli, hot Italian beef, and salad (all served by our hardworking staff!), we enjoyed live music presented by Tom Sexton with special performances by some of our clients. Song and dance filled the room with good cheer and smiling faces.  As the day wound down, we sampled homemade goodies and sweets before finally saying goodbye to our visitors. We are so thankful to be able to enjoy the holidays with our Rimland families and friends! Thank you to all who made this a fabulous day!

A Very Giving Tuesday

Last November, we raised $4,084 this year for Giving Tuesday, a new record! Giving Tuesday is a worldwide annual tradition where people donate to nonprofit organizations the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as a way of pledging support to the causes that matter most to them. The funds contributed by donors will help us to provide top of the line support to the individuals we care for in 2020 and beyond. Still interested in contributing? Click the “donate” button in the top right corner of our home page to show your support!

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.