Lessons From Daniel Tiger

Daniel TigerI read this article in the NY Times’ parenting section and started laughing to myself because someone else has made the magical discovery of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – yes, the cartoon tiger that took the helm for Mister Roger’s.

The author talks about how Daniel Tiger – not the thousands of dollars spent on therapy, countless hours of playdates, etc. – but little ole’ Daniel Tiger who should receive credit for her high-functioning autistic son’s newfound ability to connect with others. If you’re reading this – or read the NY Times article – and know Daniel Tiger, then you’ll know why that’s the case. But if you’re new to Daniel Tiger, each program follows Daniel and his friends and covers a specific topic – getting frustrated, sharing your toys, trying new foods, problem-solving, going potty…the list goes on. And not only does it give kids a great visual, each topic has a catchy little song attached to it. We use one of the little jingles – if not several – on a daily basis in our house to remind the kids about something – and they work (ok, for the most part, at least)! For example:

Trying new foods – You got to try new foods ‘cause they might taste good

Going potty – If you have to go potty, stop, and go right away. Then flush, and wash, and be on your way

Taking turns – You can take a turn, and then I’ll get it back

Getting frustrated – When you’re feeling frustrated, take a step back, and ask for help

These don’t look like much, but throw a little music on them and they are catchy and easy to remember.

The topics are so relevant to every preschool age child and they really do serve as a great tool to deal with emotions, social lessons, self-care and many other things we work to teach our children.

Lynsey, Community Manger




Autism Logistics



Being a parent is truly a gift, but I don’t think anyone will argue that the role doesn’t come with challenges. And parenting a child with autism sometimes comes with its own unique set of challenges. They might come in the form of, for example, extended tantrums, toilet training difficulties, hitting, trouble going to bed and/or getting up in the morning, and not willing to eat or try new foods.

To help parents deal with many daily challenges they often face, Kate Wilde, director of The Son-Rise Program, has written a new book called Autism Logistics. Kate has worked at The Autism Treatment Center of America for 20+ years, has worked one-on-one with more than 1500 children, and now, through her book, she is sharing guidance and easy to understand techniques.

If you’re familiar with Kyle’s Treehouse, you may already know that The Son-Rise Program was the treatment Jen and Jeff Westphal pursued for Kyle. It’s a home-based option that is designed to help children dramatically improve in all areas of learning, development, communication and skill development – in a fun and loving manner.

So if you’re looking for help on:

  • How to toilet train without pushing or pressure
  • Introducing new foods without a fight
  • What to do when your child tantrums, hits and bites
  • How to introduce tooth brushing, hair cutting and getting dressed in an enjoyable way

(and the list continues)

then you may want to check out Autism Logistics.

And visit The Autism Treatment Center of America for more information about The Son-Rise Program. They’ve got some amazing stories, perspective and instructional videos you can access.

Lynsey, Community Manager


Prison Inmate with Special Mission

Another great story that we saw here (from an ABC News story), and wanted to share with you…and this is a true example of how one’s past doesn’t define their future.

Meet Chris Vogt, who is serving a 48-year sentence in prison. And what could have been a bleak existence has turned into a positive experience for not only him, but for Zach Tucker, a nine-year-old with autism. Chris has made it his mission for help improve the lives of children with autism – so he has worked on a specialized dog training program at the prison that will cater to those with special needs. Check out the video for this very heart warming story.

Lynsey, Community Manager 

Favorite Fall Gluten-Free Recipes

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup Gluten Free Goddess

Pumpkin Sweet Potato Soup Gluten Free Goddess

Fall is officially here, and with that comes some great seasonal fruits and veggies (think pumpkin, squash, apples, etc.). For those of us following a gluten-free diet, here are links to some of our favorites for the fall – whether they’re incorporating some of those seasonal foods or just some good comfort staples for when it’s cold outside.

Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Soup (from Gluten-Free Goddess)

Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili (from Cookie + Kate)

Crunchy Top Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeai (from The Fountain Avenue Kitchen)

Autumn Bread (from Taste of Home)

Pumpkin Spice Donuts (from The Detoxinista)

Banana Oat Pancakes (from Mountain Mama Cooks)

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal (from Healthful Pursuit)

And with Thanksgiving around the corner, keep an eye out for a holiday recipe edition coming soon.

Lynsey, Community Manager

PS – If you have a favorite gluten-free recipe, share it with us!

Autism Breakthrough – The Son-Rise Program

Autism Breakthrough Audio
There are so many therapies out there for autism – it can be overwhelming, to say the least. And because autism is so wide-ranging in terms of severity, and, as the saying goes, ‘if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism,’ trying to find the right kind of therapy (or combination of therapies, in most cases) can be an endless…mind-numbing…(insert your own word here!)…journey.

You have to do what’s best, and what you think works, for your child, and that is the ultimate idea at Kyle’s Treehouse.  And as many of you may know, what worked for Kyle and the Westphal family was The Son-Rise Program. If you’re not familiar with the program, it was created in the 70’s by Barry Neil Kaufman and Samahria Lyte Kaufman to help their autistic son, Raun. It’s a home-based, parent-led structure that promotes encouragement and excitement and invites you to join your child in their world to ultimately create a bridge leading them back into ours. (From this experience the Kaufmans established The Autism Treatment Center of America, and their son, Raun–who went on to emerge from his autism–is now its Director of Global Education!)

And not only is Raun the Director of Global Education of the organization, he is also an author. Earlier this year he released, Autism Breakthrough, which is a more in-depth look at the program and why it works so well. And now it’s available as an audiobook. If you want to get a flavor for the book, you can actually listen to Chapter 2: “Joining: Entering Your Child’s World” for free – at this link http://www.autismbreakthrough.com/L/Chapter_2/.

It’s definitely worth checking out!

Lynsey, Community Manager

Raun Kaufman’s book is available!

Autism BreakthroughAs most of you know, we ran a treatment program for 4 years called “Son-Rise” to help Kyle recover from Autism.  Now you can read all about Son-Rise from the original Son-Rise “son!”  Raun K. Kaufman just recently published his own book, Autism Breakthrough, and it’s available through Amazon.com.

This is more than just a story of Raun’s recovery from Autism, because that is told in the book written by his father, Barry Neil Kaufman, called Son-Rise, the Miracle Continues (also available on Amazon.com).  It’s more an in-depth look at the program and why it works so well!  This is the go-to book if you want to understand the principles of Son-Rise and begin working with your child now!

I encourage you to order your copy today!  And if you’d like to see Raun interviewed on Fox News, you can check it out here:

Today Kyle is 21, attending a University, living on his own, making friends and doing his own thing!  We owe all this and so much more to the Son-Rise program.  Just take a look and see if the Son-Rise principles don’t help you help your child.  What have you got to lose!



Reaching His Son Through Disney

The Little MermaidWe invite—actually, encourage– you to read Ron Suskind’s recent piece for the New York Times, in which he beautifully captures the journey he and his family have been on since his younger son, Owen, was diagnosed with autism. Owen was just 3-years-old when he was diagnosed—a once chatty, engaged child full of speech went silent, stopped sleeping, wouldn’t make eye contact. It was, as doctors determined, regressive autism.

Something that remained even after autism had silenced Owen was his love of Disney movies. And it was this love of Disney movies that led their family down an interesting road because, as they learned over time, they were able to use these Disney movies to connect and communicate with their son – and it turned into something that they devoted a lot of their lives to cultivate.

It is a remarkable story and one that is worth reading in full here.

Lynsey, Community Manager


Family Fighting to Keep their Chickens

Yes, the title of this is correct – a family is fighting for their beloved chickens! Why?, you might ask. Well, Ashleigh and Joe Hart, and their 3-year-old son, J.J., who has autism, live in DeBary, FL., a small town near Orlando. A while back, Ashleigh and Joe bought a few chickens in an effort to add fresh eggs to their meals. But they got much more than fresh eggs from the experience. What they found is that J.J., who barely spoke and had temper tantrums – and who had limited success with occupational, speech and other related therapies – had an amazing response to the chickens. He connected with them, and has brought out an outgoing boy who loves to chase after the chickens and hold them.

So that was the good news. The bad news is that their town of DeBary, as noted by the Today Show that did this segment on the family, limits the kinds of animals that can be kept in residential homes. Its city council had approved a one-year pilot program that allowed the family to keep the chickens, but that pilot program is coming to an end and city has decided to not allow it to continue. Not surprisingly, this decision was met with a lot of negative feedback, considering the great benefit these chickens have had on J.J. Many people have noted their support for the Hart family on the town’s Facebook page, and, as reported, the family has hired a lawyer to try and figure out how they may be able to keep their treasured feathered friends – plus they have created a Change.org petition.

Facing autism can be so daunting, and as parents, we would do anything and everything to help our children. How wonderful is it that the Harts found something that truly connected with their child and brought out such happiness in him. And how sad that J.J. and his family may have that taken away. Hopefully this family and their town can come to a favorable resolution.

Lynsey, Community Manager

UPDATE! Good news – it’s been reported that the City Council has scheduled a vote for Dec. 18 that will hopefully determine a resolution that would let J.J. keep his chickens as a reasonable accommodation under the Federal and Florida Fair Housing Acts.