Whenever There is Help, There is Hope

Whenever There is Help, There is Hope

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition. Each individual with autism has unique strengths and challenges, which can include difficulty with social interaction, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. Autism is known as a “spectrum” disorder because there is wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms people that experience. Autism can manifest itself in a number of ways, so it can be tricky to diagnosis. It’s very difficult to draw narrow boundaries around the condition and say, “This is what an autistic child looks like.” This much we do know; Autism is a neurological condition that impacts at least 1.5 million kids (and growing) in this country alone.

The number of children in the United States diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has increased dramatically in recent years. In 2020, the CDC reported that numbers had risen from 1 in 150 in 2000, to 1 in 88 in 2008, to 1 in 54 according to the latest 2016 data. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism as girls. Most professionals who specialize in diagnosing the disorder won’t attempt to make a definite diagnosis until 18 months even if a child is exhibiting many symptoms of the condition. This is because symptoms of autism can continue to emerge, or fade away, until around 24 months when they say that an autism diagnosis tends to become “stable.”

Joseph was one such child. At a very young age, Joseph’s family noticed things about him that set him apart from other children his age. He made very little eye contact. He did not bond or play with others. He seemed to be in his own little world. He did not meet his milestones, such as crawling, walking and talking as he should. They always felt in their hearts that there was something a little unique about Joseph and the way he did things.

Joseph was tested for autism when he was three years old. He was diagnosed with autism and ADHD. Needless to say, the diagnosis did not come as a surprise to his family. Thankfully, they viewed the diagnosis as a blessing, not a curse or a sentence as they now knew what they were dealing with. Studies show that early intervention affords the best opportunity to support healthy development and deliver benefits to individuals with autism. Joseph’s family was able to enroll him in speech, physical and occupational therapy in hopes of providing him with the best possible interventions to support his development.

For Joseph, it was difficult controlling his emotions and body. It was hard for him to focus and he was very sensitive to his surroundings. Large crowds and loud noises tended to increase his anxiety. Joseph struggled socially as well, not wanting to make eye contact or engage in conversation. Joseph took medication to help with these issues. When Joseph is focused and calm, it is much easier for him to play with peers and converse with others. While the medication helped, his family longed to see even more improvements.

Unfortunately, traditional medicines have often failed at producing desired results for many individuals with autism and their families. Because of this, more and more parents have turned to alternative forms of treatment, not to cure, but to counteract the underlying symptoms of autism. Studies have demonstrated hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) as one such emerging treatment that parents and physicians are utilizing to help ameliorate the effects of ASD. In their search for possible treatment options for Joseph, his family discovered HBOT and Sara’s Garden.

So, what is HBOT and why does it help alleviate symptoms in children with ASD? The exact reasons it helps children with ASD are still being researched, however, there are some clear correlations one can observe in the current research. By saturating the circulatory system with oxygen, resulting in an increase in oxygen to tissues, HBOT removes toxins, such as heavy metals from the body. It reduces inflammation allowing oxygen-deprived areas to have a return of blood flow. It builds new capillaries in the brain and stimulates stem cell growth and mobilization.

Joseph’s family noticed so many great benefits in Joseph. They even noticed some things they didn’t know they would see! He was able to be taken off some of his ADHD medicines… and has been able to stay off them! His focus on his school work is so much better since coming to Sara’s Garden. Joseph used to be a constant sleep walker. His family is thrilled to find that is no longer a problem. He is a wonderful sleeper and also now has a great appetite as well. Previously, Joseph was very secluded, shy and quiet. He had a hard time making eye contact and handling proper social queues. His family was thrilled to see Joseph smiling and talking more, wanting to be more social and expressing interest in others. To them, he is now just happier and calmer when he is around other people.

Whenever there is help, there is hope. Joseph’s family is so thankful to have found that hope for Joseph at Sara’s Garden and are pleased that the treatments have helped him the way they have! They are so grateful that the caring staff at Sara’s Garden has really gotten to know Joseph and made their time here feel like a home away from home!

No matter what you’ve been told, there is hope… for this and many other conditions. HBOT is treatment without drugs… without surgery… without pain.

Special Grounds Project Update ~ Jan. 2021

Special Grounds Project Update ~ Jan. 2021

We want to keep everyone informed on the status of our exciting new project, Special Grounds Coffee Shop.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the project down and pushed back the timeline for when we wanted to be up and running. However, progress continues to be made and exciting milestones are being reached. It is so exciting to see how things are beginning to take shape. Here are some recent updates:

  • Our roasting room is painted. New flooring has been put down and the roaster is all unpacked and ready to go. We are now ready to begin our roasting process which will allow us to master our roasting profiles.
  • We had water damage in our training kitchen due to issues with the old pipes in the walls. Unfortunately, when we tried to remove the old cabinets, which had been built in place, we damaged them. We decided to gut all of the old kitchen cabinetry and start fresh. For now, the training kitchen houses our new espresso machine and is being used as a coffee lab as we work to provide our customers with amazing blends and recipes.
  • Our new drive up window has been installed and the coffee shop exterior has been wrapped with beautiful new siding.
First Roast
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First Roast Complete
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Please continue to keep an eye out for our Special Grounds Coffee Shop Grand Opening invitation and announcement. We look forward to seeing you and serving you there!

Thank You for Your Support!

Thank You for Your Support!

We would like to say THANK YOU to the Marathon Classic LPGA sponsors and Everence #GivingTuesday419 donors for raising over $111,000 for Sara’s Garden and its special needs kids!

In 2020, a year where all of our fundraisers were cancelled, all of our therapy services cut back due to social distancing, our schools closed due to COVID-19, and private grants and state program funds reduced due to economic downturns, Sara’s Garden and New Horizons Academy cannot express how truly grateful and thankful we are for the Marathon Classic LPGA sponsors and the Everence #GivingTuesday419 donors, who helped support us and our special needs kids and families during one of the toughest years that we have ever experienced! You are truly angels in disguise!

#GivingTuesday419 has always been about giving back to others, showing thankfulness and gratitude for what we have, and sharing with those who need it. But this year, Giving Tuesday donations meant so much more. “This year, we just cannot thank our donors enough for helping us to get through these tough economic times and for caring so much for our special needs kids and their families,” shared Sara’s Garden CEO Matt Rychener.

Among the very generous Giving Tuesday donors, raising over $76,000, for Sara’s Garden and its special needs play areas at its New Horizons Academy campuses in Wauseon and Springfield were—

  • Shari Beck
  • Paul Berndt
  • Delta Auxiliary
  • Jeff Nofziger
  • Various Anonymous Donors

For more information on #GivingTuesday419, Everence’s over $1 million fundraising effort, or on other grateful non-profit organizations helped by Giving Tuesday and its donors, log onto Everence’s website HERE.

Thank you to these donors and the Marathon Classic LPGA sponsors for helping our special needs children to meet their recreational, physical, educational, and therapeutic needs, and to meet them SAFELY! From the time we first proposed these playground projects until now, the world changed for our special needs kids, and so our playground plans had to change to meet the added health and safety demands of COVID. Without generous donors and sponsors like ours, this just would not have been possible.

“2020 has challenged businesses, communities and families in ways that were never thought possible. Despite the many challenges caused by COVID-19, this year’s Marathon LPGA Classic tournament raised a record $600,000 for 25 Northwest Ohio children’s charities,” explained Manager of Advertising & Brand Management at Marathon Petroleum John Rice. For a complete Marathon LPGA sponsor list, log onto their Facebook page HERE.

Sara’s Garden is very pleased, humbled, and grateful to be among those 25 children’s charities supported by the Marathon LPGA Classic. Thanks to its sponsors, Sara’s Garden received $35,000 towards its special needs play areas. “Considering all the challenges presented by COVID-19 this year, this is an accomplishment we’re extra proud of. We thank the sponsors, the volunteers, and all the loyal supporters of the Marathon LPGA Classic. Without them, this would not be possible,” shared Rice.

Thank you, Marathon Classic LPGA sponsors and Everence #GivingTuesday419 donors for raising over $111,000, so our special needs kids can PLAY and play SAFELY! Thank you for your generosity, caring, and INCREDIBLE support!

Fundraising efforts continue for the inclusive outdoor playground at our NHA campus in Springfield Township in Holland. For more information on our playground projects, our regional special needs schools, or how you can help support therapeutic play in Northwest Ohio, call 419-335-7272 or log onto SarasGarden.org.

Conductor Teacher Training at Aquinas College

Conductor Teacher Training at Aquinas College

Are you looking for a fulfilling career in the field of special education?

In 2001, Aquinas College (AQ) launched the first and only conductive education teacher training program in North America offering internationally recognized conductive education teacher certification concurrent with nationally accredited and Michigan Department of Education recognized special education teacher preparation.

This program remains the only program in North America approved by the Semmelweis University András Petö Faculty in Budapest Hungary to prepare conductor teachers. Candidates in this program accrue over 2,000 hours of hands-on experience at the Conductive Learning Center of North America (CLC) laboratory school. Graduates from this program are in high demand in the United States and internationally.

Three program options are available:

  1. Michigan Teacher Certification Option Candidates interested in earning a Bachelor of Arts degree with teacher certification in special education, focused on Physically and Otherwise Health-Impaired (POHI) students, can pursue a 63 credit major in Elementary Education along with the 59 credit POHI major. Candidates in this five-year program complete over 2,500 hours of clinical fieldwork beginning in their first semester at AQ.
  2. International and Out-of-State Candidate Option Candidates from abroad or from out-of-state who are not interested in Michigan teacher certification may choose to complete a Bachelor of Arts program with the 59 credit POHI major. Candidates in this program qualify for international conductor certification from the Semmelweis University András Petö Faculty.
  3. Degree-holding Candidate Option Candidates who already hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, may complete just the 59 credit POHI major leading toward international conductor certification from the Semmelweis University András Petö Faculty.

Admission Requirements 

Prior to full admission into the program, candidates must successfully complete a 40 hour observation/experience at the Conductive Learning Center of North America, course work in anatomy and physiology, and maintain a minimum college-level 3.0 grade point average.

Career Paths for POHI/Conductor Teachers

Conductive education is a growing field in the profession in the United States and throughout the world. A holistic approach to learning, conductive education addresses all aspects of an individual with motor disorders: motor, social, and cognitive development. Trained POHI/conductor teachers may work in a traditional school setting or with a specialized services program. Embracing an integrated program of educational and rehabilitative services, POHI/Conductor teachers work closely with other medical and educational professionals to ensure continuity of programming that will lead to self-confidence and functional independence.

Contact Info

For more information, please visit the Aquinas College website, contact Aquinas College Admissions or reach out to the staff at the Conductive Learning Center of North America. An exciting and fulfilling future awaits!

Lindsey Hansen, AQ Admissions

Dr. Andrea Benyovszky, AQ Adjunct

New Horizons Academy is Currently Hiring

New Horizons Academy is Currently Hiring

In order to meet the growing demand for student enrollment, New Horizons Academy at Sara’s Garden is currently seeking to hire additional Special Education Teachers/Intervention Specialists and Paraprofessionals. Positions are available immediately as well as in preparation and planning for the upcoming 2021-22 school year.


  • Wauseon Campus: 220 Lawrence Ave., Wauseon, OH 43567
  • Springfield Campus: 6201 Trust Drive, Holland, OH 43528

Contact Information

NHA Now Accepting Student Applications for 2021-22 School Year

NHA Now Accepting Student Applications for 2021-22 School Year

New Horizons Academy (NHA) is NOW accepting new special education student applications for the 2021-2022 school year for its PK-12 school campuses in Wauseon (620 W. Leggett St.) and Holland (6201 Trust Dr.—just off of Airport Highway in Toledo). NHA is also pleased to announce that it is accepting new student applications for its new Career and Event Center and Coffee Shop (854 S. Shoop Ave., Wauseon), which targets vocational and work skills for young adults through the age of 21. Call TODAY to begin the enrollment process for August’s classes.

We are very excited to be accepting applications for NEW special education students for the 2021-2022 school year for our preschool to high school classes and vocational courses through our new Career Center. If you are looking for the right special education placement, a place where your child feels like he or she fits in, consider NHA in Wauseon, Springfield Township, or through the new Career Center. Currently, NHA has students from 9 different counties and over 20 different school districts.

At NHA, kids come first. We exist for our students; our students do not exist for the school. Students don’t have to fit into the classes. The classes and programs are made to meet the individual student’s needs. Please visit us, and see if we are the right fit for your special needs student.

NHA’s Wauseon & Springfield Township Campuses:

  • Are regional preschool to 12th grade special education schools.
  • Have less than a 1:2—staff to student ratio.
  • Specialize in individualized, personalized education.
  • Provide strong academics, community involvement, life skills classes, vocational skills, work site placements, and job coaches.
  • Offer early intervention, conductive education (CE), sensory integration, occupational therapy, speech/language pathology & music instruction.
  • Participate in the College Credit Plus (CCP) Program.
  • Are Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) Schools.
  • Accept both the Autism & Jon Peterson Scholarships as payment in full.
  • Serve students from 9 counties and over 20 different school districts.

NHA’s NEW Career Center for Special Education Students:

  • Prides itself on small classrooms (No more than 5 students in a room)
  • Works with young adults up to age 21
  • Targets vocational and work skills
  • Provides on-site job coaching
  • Will soon have students working in its Special Grounds Coffee Shop
  • Helps transition high school students into community programs for youth and jobs for young adults

Our mission is to help your child achieve the greatest independence possible through early intervention programs, classes, community activities, life skills training, vocational placements, and job coaching.

Steps to Enrollment:

  1. Call the school for more information.
  2. Submit a copy of your child’s IEP & ETR for review.
  3. Schedule a school tour, interview, and student assessment.
  4. If accepted, complete student enrollment paperwork, and provide proof of residency.
  5. Complete and accept the Autism or Jon Peterson Scholarship.

For more information on New Horizons Academy or to schedule a tour, call Admissions Coordinator Ronda Rupp at 419-335-7272, email rondar@sarasgarden.org, or log onto the school website at newhorizonsacademy.org.

Start Planning for Summer 2021

Start Planning for Summer 2021

It’s never too early to start planning for our upcoming 2021 summer intervention programs!

2021 Camp Dates:

  • Wauseon: June 01-25
  • Springfield: July 06-30

Sara’s Garden offers amazing summer intervention programs for children with disabilities. These month-long programs deliver inclusive therapies that provide interventions for individuals with a variety of conditions and disabilities.

Our caring and experienced staff of licensed therapists, conductors and paraprofessionals create unique, intensive therapy-based programs that are tailored to the needs of each participant and are designed to enhance your child’s developmental skills. This approach not only helps your child to work towards greater independence, it also keeps the regression of skills and development that typically occurs over the summer months at bay.

Goals of these programs include:

Improving Interpersonal Skills:
  • Relationship building
  • Responding to his/her name
  • Learning the names of peers
  • Basic conversation skills
  • Behavioral skill development
Improving Fine and Gross Motor Skills:
  • Range of motion
  • Sitting and standing
  • Walking and transfers
  • Self feeding
  • Independent living skills
Improving Language Skills:
  • Vocabulary knowledge and understanding
  • Basic concepts
  • Following verbally presented directions
  • Improving story comprehension
  • Improve Reading/Writing Skills
Improving Social Skills:
  • Greetings
  • Turn Taking
  • Initiating communication
  • Informing and directing others
  • Requesting

Our summer intervention programs also provide support for children who use augmentative communication systems (low tech or high tech) who have language and literacy skills and need more experience with peer to peer social skills.

We serve clients with (but not limited to): ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, CDKL5, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Near Drowning, Seizure Disorders, Sensory Processing Disorders, Spina Bifida, Stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Additional information is being compiled on potential funding and grant options for families in need of financial support.

For more information, please contact Ronda Rupp at 833.668.7272 or via email at rondar@sarasgarden.org.

HBOT Center Adds UVC Cleaning Enhancements

HBOT Center Adds UVC Cleaning Enhancements

Sara’s Garden has added an extra layer of protection to the cleaning procedure for our hyperbaric oxygen chambers, an Ultraviolet-C (UVC) Lamp.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first reported in the United States in December 2019 and was declared a pandemic on March 11, 2010. Transmission of the virus is believed to be from direct contact and airborne routes. According to a scientific report by Buonanno, Welch, Shuryak, and Brenner (2020) “Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure is a direct antimicrobial approach and its effectiveness against different strains of airborne viruses has long been established.”

UVC radiation is known as a disinfectant for air, water, and nonporous surfaces. UVC lamps are considered germicidal lamps. The Food and Drug Administration website states that UVC radiation may be effective in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19). Sara’s Garden has purchased a Tabletop UVC lamp. This is a chemical free, UV room and surface sanitizer. It will sanitize by killing up to 99.9% of bacteria, viruses, mold spores, yeasts, C. difficile, odors, and other harmful microorganisms.

The UVC lamp is used as an extra protection in our cleaning process for the hyperbaric oxygen chambers. After each treatment the chamber is cleansed with a cleaning solution. At the end of all dives for the day, the UVC lamp is then placed into the chamber and turned on. It only takes 20-30 minutes and the disinfection is complete.

Using the UVC lamp gives our staff a sense of relief knowing that we are going above and beyond in our cleaning procedures to prevent contagious illness from spreading to others.

Far-UVC light efficiently and safely inactivates airborne human coronaviruses
Buonanno, Welch, Shuryak, & Brenner – 2020

UV Lights and Lamps: Ultraviolet-C Radiation, Disinfection, and Corona
Center for Devices and Radiological Health



New Horizons Academy (NHA) is committed to the safety and health of our students and staff, and we will do everything in our power to keep them safe! As the number of Northwest Ohio COVID-19 cases grow, NHA has worked extremely hard to minimize in-school exposure to the coronavirus. To date, we have had only:

  • 1 student at our Wauseon Campus test positive
  • 1 staff member at our Career Center test positive
  • 1 staff member at our Springfield Campus test positive
  • 5 staff members at our Wauseon Campus test positive

Thank you for helping to keep our students and staff healthy and safe from the coronavirus! Please continue to:

  • Keep your children home when they are sick.
  • Encourage them to wear a mask or face covering.
  • Avoid unnecessary gatherings with people outside of your home.
  • Remind your children to wash their hands often with soap and water.
  • Encourage them to carry and use hand sanitizer.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Please be aware that the Ohio Department of Health has updated its COVID-19 quarantine guidelines. Please take a few minutes to review them, so you are aware how they may affect NHA school operations.

For more information on the new quarantine guidelines, call the Ohio Department of Health Hotline at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634) or visit coronavirus.ohio.gov. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. If you or a loved one are experiencing anxiety related to the coronavirus pandemic, help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call the COVID-19 Care Line at 1-800-720-9616.

2020-21 NHA Yearbook Sponsorship

2020-21 NHA Yearbook Sponsorship

We are so thankful to our sponsors for making this past year’s yearbook project possible.

Our goal is to once again provide our students and their parents with this very special memento. We hope to raise funds through sponsors in order to keep the costs of the yearbooks as low as possible, so that more students and their families will be able to afford one.

We invite you to consider being a sponsor of this very special project!

We also gladly accept general donations for those not interested in being recognized as sponsors.

COST: $150.00

This level of sponsorship includes a 3.75″ x 4.25″ (approx.) color advertisement in the yearbook, recognition on our website and recognition on social media with a link to your business’ social media page or website.

COST: $90.00

This level of sponsorship includes a business card sized color advertisement in the yearbook and recognition on our website.

COST: $30.00

This level of sponsorship includes your business or name listed in the yearbook and website.

  • Advertisements are requested to be received by April 30, 2021.
  • Ads can be emailed in .jpg/.jpeg format to karab@sarasgarden.org.
  • Ads may be dropped off at Sara’s Garden or New Horizons Academy.

Sara’s Garden is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization and your donation is tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S. law. To claim a donation as a deduction on your U.S. taxes, please keep your email donation receipt as your official record. We’ll send it to you upon successful completion of your donation.