Quick Tips for Safe & Successful Community Outings

By Tina M
November 14th

Submitted by Terri Gowey, Chief Operating Officer

Going into the community with a child with behavioral challenges can be anxiety producing. Here are some helpful tips to assist you when going into the community:

Be aware of the environment in which you are going and potential sensory aversions.

  • Bring items, such as sound muffling headphones, sun glasses, their favorite hat, etc., that will help your child if they may experience sensory overload
  • Pick a time when the environment is less likely to be crowded.
  • Prior to visits, become familiar with where exits and bathrooms are.

Be aware of environmental risks such as water that is close by, a busy street, a preferred item your child might dart toward.

Review expectations with your child prior to going into the community.

  • If your child is a visual learner, using visuals to go over those expectations and provide visual cues while in the community are helpful.

Have preferred items or small rewards (reinforcers) available for community activities.

  • Provide behavior specific verbal praise when your child is doing what is expected, for example, “You are doing such a nice job pushing the shopping cart.”

Plan for behavioral challenges.

    • You may need to leave a cart of groceries or other items behind to exit the store quickly.

If it is a new or less preferred community activity, it may be helpful to slowly introduce your child to the community activity.

  • Practice at home by simulating the environment you will be going to.
  • Take pictures of a child engaging in the community activity and make a booklet to go over with your child beforehand.
  • Start by driving by the location, another day go up to the door and look around, the next day go into the office, etc.
  • This has been helpful for doctor or dentist visits, it is best to communicate with the provider ahead of time to come up with a plan that works for you, your child, and the practitioner.

Playing with Playdoh

By Tina M
November 7th

Sensory Tip
Brought to you by Alicia Zielke, COTA

Playdoh is a great “tool” for so many reasons. The playdoh itself has a “gooey” and “sticky” texture, and in this case a strong pumpkin smell, which is fun for kids to explore (especially students who are sensory seeking).

When playing with the playdoh, kids are able to learn and expand on many skills. We can “push” or “squish” the playdoh together and roll the playdoh into snakes providing sensory input to the joints while also strengthening the muscles needed for fine motor activities. We can use the playdoh to form letters, numbers and shapes, turning learning into play. Lastly, this fun pumpkin playdoh can serve as an opportunity to engage in imaginative play and can help our students expand on their creativity!

Recipe: 1 can of pumpkin, then gradually add cornstarch to reach your desired consistency

AmazonSmile – 10 times the support

By Tina M
October 31st

AmazonSmile has donated over $100 million to charities thanks to customers shopping at smile.amazon.com.

To celebrate, AmazonSmile is donating 5% (ten times the usual amount) to Chileda when you shop at smile.amazon.com/ch/39-1244797 through this Friday, November 2.

Student Council

By Tina M
October 24th

Submitted by Trista Zimmerman, Leisure Education Teacher

A new school year brings a new group of students on the Chileda Student Council! Our group meets bi-weekly to discuss different happenings around campus. Some of the major issues already tackled have been the student handbook as well as discussions about the school menu. Future endeavors include planning outings, fundraising and other campus activities. Every student will have a chance to run for office and each student will have a special job on Student Council after the voting concludes.

Pictured: Student diligently working on his campaign speech.

Why Work at Chileda?

By Tina M
October 17th

Submitted by Toby Wendtland, Recruiter

Wait, what is Chileda?  We polled 100 people who had never heard of Chileda and the most popular answer was:  A Mexican Restaurant!  Well, that’s not quite right.  Chileda was founded in 1973 with the idea that every child can reach their full potential regardless of cognitive or behavioral challenges.  As the first significant papers were being published on autism, Chileda was already helping families find unique and tailored approaches to each individual child they served.  45 years later, we continue to innovate at our integrated school and residential campus located in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  So why work at Chileda?

Set aside the awesome benefits we have, forget about the generous insurance package, the 401(k) match, profit sharing and amazing paid time off, and focus on the opportunity in front of you:  We want you to help us change lives. As you get to know our students, there will be no quitting on them.  What if I told you there was a job out there with great pay, great benefits, even better opportunities for advancement, and a job you’ll love 95% of the time? Doesn’t that sound tempting, even sound like a career opportunity? Nothing prepares you for Chileda, except Chileda.  There are opportunities for rock stars to shine, to go on tour, and even go platinum.  We love to train staff; we’re producing rock stars every day.  Join us and we’ll show you why job satisfaction makes all the difference.

All Abilities Trane Park Project

By Tina M
October 10th

Submitted by Derek Cortez, CEO of Chileda
This speech was given on 10/4/18 in support of the All Abilities Trane Park

Fellow parents and grandparents,
Have you ever reflected on the many choices you have for your children and grandchildren to experience community? Have you ever reflected on the many choices you have for your children and grandchildren in regards to team sports and other physical opportunities? Probably not. Why would you, when this is most likely an unnecessary exercise for your family? For most of us in this room we have the luxury of choosing amongst many choices of places to go and activities to engage in with our kids and grandkids.

But suppose you had no choice or very few choices. Suppose the physical and cognitive challenges of your child or grandchild seriously limited the places they could go…places where most other children could go, but yours could not. How would you feel then as a parent or grandparent?

Fellow parents and grandparents,
The world of limited choices is the world the children of Chileda live in. My name is Derek Cortez and I am the CEO of Chileda. Chileda is an organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for children/adolescents with severe autism and other cognitive challenges. We have been a part of this community for 45 years. Our residential and day school program serves on average 60-70 children and employs more than 200 people. Our families come mostly from Wisconsin and Minnesota, but do come from as far away places as Alaska.

One of the questions we often hear from our parents when they visit their children is where can they take their child in the community where they can be safe, welcomed, and have fun? It isn’t easy to find such a place, because few places exist that can accommodate our children.

The Trane Park is one such place that will provide an option for our families. In a world with limited choices, the Trane Park provides them with a place where a kid can be a kid, regardless of physical and cognitive challenges.

Tonight I am here to represent those families who could not be here to speak on behalf of their child. I am here to speak on the behalf of the invisible, those who too often spend much of their lives behind closed doors so you seldom see them.

Fellow parents and grandparents, I would ask you to support this noble cause of the Trane Project.
The Trane Project will demonstrate yet again that we are a city that shows we don’t aim to meet only the needs of the many, but also the needs of the few; and not only those with the loudest voices, but also those without a voice…the needs of the invisible. Thank you for consideration of our request to support this park.

Out & About in the Community

By Tina M
September 26th

Oh, the wonderful things we do at Chileda!!! A couple weeks ago, students and staff enjoyed a day outside at Camp Decorah participating in kickball, yoga, parachute play, bracelet making and climbing the tree fort. Thank you to Camp Decorah for providing us with such an incredible play area on a beautiful summer day. Check out more photos on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/chileda.

Pictured: Students engaged in chair yoga :).

And the Winner is…

By Tina M
September 20th

We asked, you voted! Here’s the winning student drawing that will be featured on our next employee t-shirt! Thank you to everyone who voted.

Healthy Habits Update

By Tina M
September 12th

Submitted by Trista Zimmerman, Leisure Education Teacher

Over the past few months, students have been able to place health at the forefront with our Healthy Habits program. Using our Tools for Schools grant, we’ve had the opportunity to explore different activities across campus and in the community. The grant has enabled us to:

  • Purchase water bottles, as well as a new water fountain, which has increased hydration habits amongst staff and students.
  • Go on outings – hiking, to the grocery store, to community gardens, and other health related activities.
  • Have bikes repaired which the students have taken out into the community during their Physical Education time.
  • Explore new fruits and veggies by visiting our local Co-op.
  • Focus on overall wellbeing with a unit on happiness
  • Participate in Health Jeopardy and win healthy prizes
  • Complete a unit on sharing with accompanying fruit paintings.

The Healthy Habits programming has been a great way to teach lifelong wellness skills to our students, and will continue to be implemented once a month during the school year.

Parachute Play

By Tina M
September 5th

Parachute play provides endless fun!