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Fern Adair: Mini-Olympics

From the sports-regal march into the gym, through the Star Spangled Banner playing to the stands of excited family members and friends there to support the students competing, the Mini-Olympics is an annual competition that creates fond memories for all who are involved at the Fern Adair Conservatory of the Arts. While this is the third consecutive year of the Mini-Olympics, this event has a long standing history with the school and will be presented on May 21st this year, in the gymnastics facility at the Conservatory. Besides accentuating the gymnastic skills that the students have acquired throughout the year, it is a time for the young gymnasts to show their support and respect for each other. At this moment for the students, it is about proving their capabilities to themselves and competing for their individual scores, not comparing themselves to their peers.

The Mini-Olympics is held at the Fern Adair Conservatory of the Arts for all students who are enrolled in the gymnastics department. Students ages 4-16 years will compete in categories such as floor work, high and parallel bars, vault, rings, beam, and trampoline. The competition is divided into class levels so that each child only competes with those who are at a comparable skill set. There are five to six events running until finally everyone has completed all events. The students are assessed based on their form and performance level and these scores reflect how well they execute what they can do, not what they have not yet learned. Each category has a judge to determine the awards. Prizes range from a participation certificate and medal, which everyone receives, to distinct ribbons and medals for the event winners.

Fern Adair, the director and owner of the Conservatory, believes that having this event helps to focus the children’s attention during class allowing them to show what they have learned in a more encouraging and relaxed setting. It also provides an opportunity for kids to set goals for themselves and be inspired by those who may be more advanced than them. This form of outlet creates a camaraderie between students allowing them to gain assurance and feel pride in what they have achieved. As an observer from last year’s event stated, “It’s so inspiring to watch the kids cheer for each other and encourage the best from each”. This is the goal of the coaches who have followed the journey and process of each student, knowing where they began and how far they have come. Some individuals come in afraid to bend upside down, while others have no fear. Some come in flexible while others come in strong. Each student has his or her own challenges to meet and seeing the progression in each student is what makes not only the teacher, but the student proud. And this gratification and fulfillment of self is what the Mini-Olympics is all about.

The Lovaas Center Supports Evidence-based Treatment

How Autism is Treated?

The cumulative research leading to the now famous “87-study” published by Dr. Ivar Lovaas at UCLA was noted by the US Surgeon General as a “well designed study…with nearly half the children once treated able to participate in regular schooling.” Most of the children lost the autism diagnosis and graduated high school without special considerations. Dr. Lovaas used the term “recovered,” making sure to avoid the word “cured.” Key components to the Lovaas program included; treating the children early (before the age of four), high intensity (40-hours per week), and treatment was driven using behavior principles. These treatment components went on to become known as Early Intensive Behavior Intervention or EIBI utilizing principals of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Program success increased when treatment was done with one instructor/technician to each child (1:1) at home with heavy parent involvement. Early responsivity to treatment is a key indicator for a better outcome, but measures to indicate which child will “recover” or not, have not been validated, nor would they be useful as 90% of the children to receive EIBI make significant gains. Without treatment, the vast majority will require some level of life-long care.

Dr. Lovaas retired from UCLA in 2006, after dedicating 50 years of his life to autism research and treatment. It was at this time that The Lovaas Center (TLC) opened in Las Vegas with UCLA staff members including Jon Paul Saunders, Lenise Kryk, and Casey Hayden. The Lovaas Center started with four employees and a handful of clients, and now serves hundreds of children across the United States, Mexico and Europe “Changing lives… One child at a time.”

Funding Treatment In Nevada

Thanks to Nevada Legislators and the Governor, Nevada recognizes the benefits of treatment. The state Autism Treatment Assistance Program (ATAP) provides assistance to help families pay for evidence-based treatment for children through the age of 19. Nevada Medicaid began coverage of ABA in January 2016. And most private insurance companies operating in Nevada have been mandated to pay for the treatment using ABA through the age of 22, the exception are self funded plans. Previously this burden was placed on parents, school districts and state regional centers.

Who in Nevada can provide Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Expert supervision is critical for quality evidenced-based treatment delivery. Insurance and Medicaid now require treatment to be supervised by Licensed professionals called Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) Masters degree and Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) B.A. degree with Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT) conduct the 1:1 treatment under the direction of the BCBA. The BCBA is a specialized certification, requiring classes in ABA and 1,500 of practicum hours with national test. The RBT credential is a new national credential, requires 40-hours of training with BCBA evaluation and national test.

However, Nevada does not currently have a practice act, which has helped to keep treatment affordable for parents paying out-of-pocket for intervention. Families may still utilize parent-hired interventionists who are trained and implementing programs developed and overseen by Behavior Analysts. The state Autism Treatment Assistance Program (ATAP) funds treatment hours delivered by interventionists. Interventionists may complete the 40-hours of training and take the national test to be credentialed as an RBT. Credentialing this staff will increase the hourly rate of treatment.

Access To Treatment

Access to treatment has improved in Nevada with coverage by most private insurance companies and Medicaid. However, true access to evidence-based levels of treatment still eludes most Nevadans with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Factors affecting access include: 1) Insurance laws allow for caps to limit treatment hours instead of what is medically necessary, supported by research and evidenced to ameliorate symptoms; 2) The increasing number of diagnosed children; 3) The new credentialing requirements; 4) Low Medicaid rates discourage providers from enrolling as a Medicaid provider. All these factors will influence the provider capacity in Nevada. The reality is, there just is not enough quality providers to provide evidence-based treatment to all of Nevada’s children with autism. Most providers have wait list. At a time when parents are in their greatest need, they face their biggest challenges in securing services.

The Lovaas Center will continue to advocate for improved access. Please join us, together we can work towards solutions to grow provider capacity in Nevada and increase access to research levels of treatment, so each individual with autism has the opportunity to reach their potential.

The Lovaas Center for Behavior Intervention: 702-877-2520.

Keys to Helping Your Child Learn to Swim

The journey of learning to swim can bring with it some challenges. From the first time a child blows bubbles to the first time they do a lap of butterfly, there can be some hurdles to overcome along the way. There are several things that parents can do to help their child thrive through the journey.

1. Be Patient

Many parents think that the moment a child “learned to swim” can be pinpointed to a specific date and time. In reality this is not the case. Just like learning any motor skill, such as gymnastics, dance, piano, violin, etc., learning to swim is a progression. Some people think that when their child learns to swim, he or she will constantly rapidly progress through all of the milestones; however children actually complete more of a stair-step progression as they learn to swim, with periods of rapid succession and periods of plateaus. Be patient and supportive as your child goes through the journey.

2. Be Encouraging

There may be days where your child does not want to go to swim class. Sometimes when new skills are introduced the child can feel overwhelmed, anxious, or nervous. Parents and teachers have to believe that the child can succeed even more than the child believes in themselves, and they need to vocalize that encouragement. Tell your child frequently how proud you are of them for trying new things and for doing their best. Remind them that it takes practice to master anything, and practice makes progress. Let them know that it is okay if they do not do things perfectly at first, as long as they continue to give their best effort.

3. Be Consistent

Remember that consistency is key. Try to make it to class as frequently as possible. Missing a lot of swim lessons will result in a two-steps-forward, one-step backward occurrence. A huge factor in learning to swim is developing muscle-memory, and many absences from swim class will allow those muscles to “forget” the skills that the teacher is trying to instill in your child.

4. Be Child-Centered

Remember to maintain a child-centered mentality, rather than a goal-centered mentality. Be sensitive to the needs and emotions of your child. Given the right environment, all children are capable of learning to swim at a rate that is comfortable for them. Some children are over-confident in the water and some children are extremely cautious in the water. This means that the rate at which each child is going to progress is going to be different. Remember that the swim lesson is for the betterment of the child, not for anyone else. While goals are important, they should never take priority over doing what is best for the child’s emotional and physical wellbeing.

The end result of going through a child-centered swim program is a happy, healthy, wellskilled student who thrives in and around the water.

Katrina Brandhagen is the Owner/Director of All Star Swim Academy in Henderson. For more information on swim lessons for students of all ages and abilities call 702-565-3824 or visit

Drowning Prevention Tips For Pool Owners

Never leave a child unattended in the water or pool area for any reason. Don’t be distracted by doorbells, phone calls, chores or conversations. If you must leave the pool area, take the child with you, making sure the pool gate latches securely when it closes.

Always keep your eyes on the child or children. Designate a child watcher, whether you or someone else, when you attend a party or have friends or family over.

Talk with baby-sitters about pool safety, supervision and drowning prevention.

Post rules such as “No running,” “No pushing,” “No dunking” and “Never swim alone.” Enforce the rules.

Don’t rely on swimming lessons or “floaties” to protect your children in the water.

Don’t assume that drowning or a drowning incident couldn’t happen to you or your family.

Don’t have a false sense of security just because you think your pool area and home are secure. Always watch your children, whether in the house or outside.

Attend a CPR class. Make sure your baby-sitter knows CPR.

For the nearest cardiopulmonary resuscitation class, contact your fire department, Red Cross or hospital.

Encourage your neighbors to follow pool safety guidelines, including keeping their back gates and doors locked, and their pool gates securely closed and latched.

Lion Habitat Ranch—It’s Time to Hear You Roar

Dear Potential Vegas Griswald Family:

Are you starting to feel like you’re starring in another sequel of National Lampoon’s Family Vacation … when anytime it’s designated family time—nothing seems to go as planned?

It’s no secret that Las Vegas is a glut of adult activity, leaving our greatest gift (our kids!) restless, bored, secretly disappointed … and susceptible to things we struggle as parents to protect them from.

So you pick up your trust copy of Parent’s Guide Magazine… We love Circus Circus and during the blazing summer months, we make a huge splash at Wet’nWild Water Park. There’s plenty of good old-fashioned fun to be had if you know where to look. And you do, that’s why you’re reading this right now!

But, take this scene from National Lampoon’s Family Vacation: Clark Griswald: I’m trying to treat my family to a little fun. Ellen Griswald: Oh spare me, Clark! I know your brand of family fun.

Tomorrow you’ll probably kill the clerk, hold up a McDonalds, and drive us 1,000 miles out to see the world’s largest pile of mud!

Sound familiar? But here’s the incredible news — You’re next adventure is only a few miles away! You are certainly not a Griswald and you’re always in the know about the newest and most exciting ways for the fam-bam to get the most bang for their buck. … Well, NEW has arrived … And it’s got cattitude

If you’ve been searching for the ultimate adventure for the whole family … there’s one item that needs to be added to your itinerary and it will make any outing the most memorable yet!

Better yet! It will make you roar!

Lion Habitat Ranch…

MGM’s world famous Lion Habitat is bigger … and more magical than ever before at its new location in Henderson, NV. Without the confines of casino glass walls, the new improved ranch offers a very impressive open space for 40 giant cats.

Your family will have a blast on this unique safari-style adventure.

A staple of Las Vegas history lives on — Lucky you! You get to be a part of history in the making. As much fun as it is to take pictures in front of the MGM’s statue of the bronze Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Lion (also known as Leo), there’s something to be said about interacting with the descendants of Leo, the most famous lion in the world.

When your kids plan a play date with the grand and great grand-kittens of our beloved Leo — our heritage lives on through your own family legacy.

And that’s some mighty good company.

Aren’t you tired of hearing — What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? As parents, what does this convey to our impressionable children? Let’s face it. The place we call home does a good job of extinguishing any child’s curiosity … but our lions have peaked, not only a nation’s curiosity, but also that of international intrigue.

Why — ?

Because we’re a charity organization and … In addition to advocating for education about African lions in our community, we at the Lion Habitat Ranch happily support the efforts of Conservation International in Kenya … What better way to keep the innocent wonder glowing in your children’s eyes … while knowing you’re instilling the core values of philanthropy and integrity just by visiting the Lion Habitat Ranch.

It’s about time what happens in Vegas needn’t stay in Vegas …

The memories you’ll make at the Lion Habitat Ranch will become incredible tales you’ll want to tell over and over … for a lifetime.

A few of our promotions.

  • Cub Photos. Offering the same edge of your seat experience, comparable to Cirque Du Soleil, brave enough visitors can become a part of the show. Take a Cub Photo and handle a live cub! You’ll even be able to place you hand atop its massive paw! (Plus we’re proud to announce the arrival of 7 new Cubs!!)
  • Feast With the Beast. For those who want to dine with the lions, this is a private catered event where they’ll surround you. The kings of the jungle watch your every move and wait on dinner! A feast indeed!! (Don’t worry. You’re not the main course!) Includes up to 20 people. Be sure to book ahead. The feast is a popular package!
  • We also offer an Entire Courtyard Rental. Feeding Animals and Behind the Scenes Tours are also available. For a full list of services and gift cards, please visit our website.

The Lion Habitat Ranch is ideal for: … family outings … birthday parties … team building … outdoor education trips … special events available any day of the week!!

Spring 2016 Hours

When: Friday to Monday,
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Where: 382 Bruner Ave., Henderson, Nevada 89044

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