How Does Your Garden Grow?

In April Transition Services learners began spring cleaning the yard at the Railton House.  After all had been cleared and tidied it was decided that we would try our hands at an organic garden this summer.

The appropriate location of the beds were discussed and decided. Vegetable and fruit varieties were excitedly exchanged. Soil types were discussed and then plans were made!

The vegetable boxes that the Transition Services learners at Railton House decided to use are repurposed from a filler metal company. They are hinged for easy transport and possible stacking in the future.  The organic vegetable soil was obtained from The Ground Up.  Kevin and Jacob worked hard to lay cardboard first in the garden boxes to deter weeds and to attract earthworms and then they filled them in with beautiful organic soil.  

At Buchannan’s nursery Jacob and Kevin decided to choose a couple varieties of tomatoes and peppers along with strawberries, basil, cucumbers, and a watermelon. Travis and Alex planted organic kale seeds from Whole Foods. A few purple flowers were planted to attract bees.  The trellis for the cucumbers has been constructed of a repurposed vase stand, twigs, and a bright red ball for artistic flair!

Special Guests Visit the Monarch Campus to Learn How to Replicate Monarch’s Life Academy Program in IndiaSpecial guests from Sol’s Arc Parallel Schools and Therapy Center in India
visit the Monarch Campus and learn about The Life Academy. 

Special guests from Sol’s Arc Parallel Schools and Therapy Center in India visited the Monarch campus for a week-long visit to learn from students and faculty about The Life Academy and to replicate its programs in India. The special guest include Sonali Saini, Founder, Sol's Arc – India, her daughter Solange Saini, Jinisha Chheda, Director, Sol's Arc – India and Farazna Badamia, Principal, Sol's Arc – India. 

Sol's Arc runs Parallel Schools and Therapy Centers with the aim of preparing children with special needs for life. Since its founding in 2003, Sol’s Arc has done innovative work in special education through its Therapy Center and Parallel School located at in Mumbai and Pune India.

The guests saw all facets of the Life Academy and Transition Services too. The tour and information sessions included stops in the Life Academy store, the culinary kitchen, the work station where student-made jewelry is made, the Life Academy business office and e-commerce classroom and also a tour of the Transition Services residences.


Training continues for faculty from Montcalm's Therapeutic Day School, conveniently located on the historic and beautiful Starr Commonwealth campus off of Interstate 94 in Albion, Michigan.

The Montcalm Therapeutic Day School opened in September 2013 and it will be the first Monarch replication school in the United States.

The Michigan team membes Johana Kleinhans, Robert Guise, Ryan Cook and Kelcey Clevenger are in Houston training and are part of The Monarch School's Summer Program. They will take the skills and knowledge they have learned at The Monarch School and apply it at the Montcalm Therapeutic Day School in Michigan. 

The Montcalm Therapeutic Day School accepts students, ages
12-28, with autism spectrum disorder or other neurological differences, and provides families across Michigan and the Midwest with the option of non-residential specialized support.

The educational model for the Montcalm Therapeutic Day School will be focused on project-based learning, a learner-centered approach adopted from the Monarch Institute for Neurological Differences in Houston, Texas. The Monarch Institute is internationally recognized and has had the program replicated in Guatemala and Mexico.

Students will undergo assessments to determine their personal strength and executive functioning level. Using a developmental Levels System the student's assessment results will determine placement in co-ed classrooms with 10-12 students per classroom.

The team is committed to helping students progress in Four Core Goal areas:

Self-regulation and self-awareness

Executive function

Relationship development

Academic and professional competence

After training is complete Starr Commonwealth will become the newest member of the Monarch Institute Consortium of Schools that also includes our international replication schools Colegio Monarch in Guatemala and Monarch Therapy School in Mexico City.


Bryant Shaw, Ph.D., Director of the Monarch Diagnostic Clinic was guest speaker at an international autism conference held at Universidad Iberoamericana (IBERO), in Mexico City, Mexico.

The conference, entitled “First Meeting Focusing on the Autism Spectrum: Transforming the Lives of Many,” was sponsored by Monarch Therapy School of Mexico City and featured speakers from many different backgrounds with diverse ideas about supporting people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) .

According to JenniKate Estavillo, Director of Monarch Therapy School and spearhead for the development of the conference, this was the first time that an inclusive, multi-theoretical meeting of this type had been held in Mexico. Dr. Shaw’s talk, attended by a full house of therapists, parents, educators, and medical personnel, was aimed at urging the involvement of families as core members of an interdisciplinary support team for their children with ASD.

The discussion focused largely on ways that parents can act as agents of positive change for their children, while emphasizing the need for all parents to understand and participate fully in their children’s therapy and education.

Dr. Shaw stressed the need to avoid viewing treatment and education for children with ASD as sufficient when parents are not directly involved in the process.

To help the crowd reach a deeper understanding of Dr. Shaw’s points, he de-mystified many aspects of typical therapies and offered practical suggestions for extending the work of therapists and special educators.

Responses from attendees were positive in nature, and select quotes from them are listed here:

       “I loved the information Dr. Shaw shared with us,    
        particularly how he highlighted the work families
        need to do to support our children.”   

       “This event inspired me to take the necessary steps to    
        create a multidisciplinary team for my child with Autism;
        I felt empowered by Dr. Shaw’s talk to learn more about
        the interventions and support my family needs” 

        “Dr. Shaw’s presentation was key to the understanding
the family dynamics a child with Autism lives with.
         He was witty, informative and above all sensitive to our
         culture’s needs. The feedback we received was so
         positive we would like to invite him back year after

If you are interested in learning more about the Monarch Diagnostic Clinic or would like to have Dr. Shaw as speaker
for your group, contact him at  

Former First Lady Barbara Bush and NY Times Best-Selling Author John Elder Robison Highlight the Dedication of the Monarch Institute for Neurological Differences, John M. O’Quinn Campus

The Monarch Institute for Neurological Differences, home to The Monarch School, hosted a private dedication for major donors at the new Monarch Institute--John M. O’Quinn Campus on Tuesday, February 18, 2014. 

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The dedication was highlighted by two very special guest speakers; Honorary Dedication Chair--Former First Lady Barbara Bush, and Keynote Speaker--New York Times Best-selling Author John Elder Robison.

The dedication represents the culmination of a nearly twenty-year vision of Monarch Founder, Dr. Marty Webb. In 1997, what began as The Monarch School, the cornerstone program of the Monarch Institute for Neurological Differences, now includes The Monarch Diagnostic Clinic, Therapy Services, Training Center, Transition Services, and Replication. All are part of the new Monarch Institute for Neurological Differences, John M. O’Quinn Campus, located on an 11-acre site in the heart of Spring Branch, in Northwest Houston.

Emcee for the dedication was KPRC Channel 2 Anchor Dominique Sachse, who thanked Mrs. Bush for making it an extra special day, and welcomed special guests and public officials. 

Reverend Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr., Rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church led the invocation.

Monarch Board of Trustees Chairman David Matthiesen shared his personal story. Mr. Matthiesen is the proud father of Kate, a Monarch student, who is a resident in the Transitional Living program. Mr. Matthiesen shared his gratitude for all who have supported the Monarch vision and acknowledged the Monarch board members, past and present. He then introduced Monarch Institute and Monarch School Founder, Dr. Marty Webb. 

Dr. Webb shared her passion for the Monarch vision and its history. Dr. Webb gave an enthusiastic thanks to  “All who had said ‘YES’ all along the way”-- from the Monarch School’s humble beginning in her garage all the way through to the Monarch Institute dedication. 

Dr. Webb then introduced Honorary Dedication Chair--Former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush engaged the audience with humor, style and grace. Mrs. Bush spoke of her passion for education and shared her thanks for a School and Institute, in Houston, that helped those with neurological differences. Mrs. Bush then introduced Keynote Speaker and NY Times best-selling author John Elder Robison. 

Keynote Speaker John Elder Robison is the author of New York Times best-seller “Look Me in the Eye”, a moving memoir of his life with Asperger’s syndrome. He also wrote “Be Different” and his newest book "Raising Cubby" will be released March 16, 2014.  

Mr. Robison is a world-recognized authority on life with autism, and is widely known as an advocate for people with autism and neurological differences. He speaks about being different at schools and conferences all over the country.
He is very active in efforts to support and promote research leading to therapies or treatments that will improve the lives of people who live with autism in all its forms today.  Currently, John Elder Robison is the Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence at the College of William and Mary.  

During the dedication, Mr. Robison spoke of his long-time affiliation with the Monarch School, Monarch Institute and Monarch Founder Dr. Marty Webb. 

He spoke of Marty Webb’s vision -- a place where kids could feel safe; a place where their talents would be developed and nurtured.  

He spoke of his first visit to Monarch in 2007 and how he knew immediately that Monarch was a very special institution.

So special, that Mr. Robison worked with students and staff to develop teaching guides for the books that represented the perspective of students and faculty on the subject of autism.

The audience learned that Mr. Robison applied his extra-ordinary talent to his passion for electronics and music. As a sound engineer he built equipment for the rock band Pink Floyd’s sound company and created the signature special effects guitars for rock band KISS. He went on to design sound effects and other circuits for some of the most popular electronic games and toys of the 1980’s era. The audience also learned of Mr. Robison’s passion for restoring cars. His company, J E Robison Service Co, is one of the largest independent restoration and service specialists for BMW, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes, and Rolls Royce cars. The company has become one of the top-ranked Bosch Car Service centers in North America.

Mr. Robison spoke of his own passions and talent, because he wants students with neurological differences to develop their talents and use them to nurture their passions.

After Mr. Robison gave his Keynote Speech, Dominique Sachse introduced Monarch’s Head of School and Institute, Dr. Debrah Hall, who thanked parents and faculty. Dr. Hall was then joined by Dr. Webb for two special presentations. 

Dr. Webb thanked Rose Cullen and Kathy Cullen McCord for their support. A video feed of the Rose Garden, dedicated to Rose Cullen and Kathy Cullen McCord, was show to the audience while Dr. Webb introduced Rob Wilson, President and Trustee of The John M. O'Quinn Foundation.

Mr. Wilson spoke about his friend John M. O'Quinn and the special place Monarch held with Mr. O'Quinn. The guests then watched as several of the founding Monarch School faculty and post graduate students unveiled a bronze statue in honor of John M. O'Quinn in the Rose Garden. The bronze statue bearing the likeness of John M. O'Quinn and two Monarch students was created by sculptor Edd Hayes. 

The dedication concluded with Dr. Debrah Hall thanking all for their contributions and attendance.

The dedication of The Monarch Institute for Neurological Differences would not have been possible had it not been for the generosity of its major donors.
Monarch would not have its new campus without the $5,000,000 lead gift of the John M. O’Quinn Foundation, or Roy Johnson and MetroNational’s generous gift of a 90-year lease of the 11-acres of land. 
Click here for the dedication program listing all the major donors who made the Monarch Institute for Neurological Differences possible. Click here to see The Monarch Institute for Neurological Differences dedication video.

Monarch Student In the Community: 


Seven students in the Transition Services Program at the Monarch Institute, are currently enrolled in Houston Community College.

Recently, the students attended an orientation briefing and registered for their classes at the HCC Spring Branch campus.


Courses range from developmental reading, math and science to fashion design, English and accounting.

Accompanied by Voyager Program Co-Manager Keith Preston, the Voyagers met with HCC ADA Counselor, Lisa Parkinson, to discuss the courses they were registering for and to talk about the expectations they had for the upcoming semester.


“The students will come to campus each semester to talk about courses they are interested in or are needing for their degree plan. We discuss their expectations and how instructors can accommodate student needs in the classroom.” said HCC ADA Counselor, Lisa Parkinson.  

For more information about the Transition Services program contact Catherine King at 

Dr. Debrah Hall, Head of The Monarch School and Institute, welcomes guests to the ReelAbilities 2014: Houston Disabilities Film Festival showing of “Come as You Are (Hasta la Vista)”in the Monarch Center. 

The Monarch Institute is again proud to be a collaborating partner in ReelAbilities: Houston Disabilities Film Festival 2014.

This city-wide film and arts festival is dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of individuals with various disabilities.

The Houston ReelAbilities Disabilities Film Festival was held February 9 - 13, 2014. As a collaborating partner, the Monarch Institute for Neurological Differences provided the venue for the showing of the Houston ReelAbilities Disabilities Film entitled “Come as You Are (Hasta la Vista)” on Tuesday, February 11, 2014.

The film was shown at the new Monarch Center building to 80 people who braved cold and rain and enjoyed the film and the talk back session after the film. More than 50 people participated in the interactive talk back session, some shared questions and comments, others sent messages using Twitter.

The interactive talk back session was hosted by the Monarch Institute for Neurological Differences faculty -- Dr. Neal Sarahan, Dr. Tara Devine and Dr. Bryant Shaw.

Houston ReelAbilities Disabilities Film Festival
February 9 - 13, 2014
Houston Films, Venues, Schedule and Tickets in PDF


Since 2003, The Monarch Diagnostic Clinic has served the assessment and support planning needs of The Monarch School.

Beginning in 2005, our Clinic began to see clients who were not associated with our School, which gave our Clinic the important mission of helping to spread the word about the Monarch developmental model within the greater community. 

By 2014, Clinic faculty had evaluated a very diverse group of children and adults – including individuals from 15 countries across the globe. 

Each individual seen in our Clinic returns to their home environment with a support plan that mirrors those that our School faculty put together for our students. In this way, people from around the world are given access to the wealth of information our School faculty has amassed about working with individuals with neurological differences. 

Clinic faculty are also out in the community regularly teaching professionals and parents about innovative therapeutic education. They are working to increase access and understanding of what we have learned about supporting growth in the key areas of self-awareness/self-regulation, executive functions, relationship development, and academic/professional competence. 

Founder of Colegio Monarch Guatemala, Alessandra Arimany and Founder and Head of School of the Monarch Therapy School in Mexico City, JenniKate Estavillo Galswothy, came to Houston for the dedication ceremony for the Monarch Institute for Neurological Differences. 

Alessandra is founder of the first replication school,Colegio Monarch Guatemala, which opened in 2007. JenniKate opened the Monarch Therapy School in Mexico City, in August, 2012.

Click here for more information on Colegio Monarch Guatemala.

Click here for more information on Monarch Therapy School in Mexico City.

Click here for more information about Monarch's Replication Program.



Music is filling the halls of The Monarch Institute! In addition to supporting relationship development during group music therapy sessions, Cay Taylor, MT-BC and Sarah Posey, MT-BC offer individual music therapy and adapted lessons to students and members of the community.

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Strengths emerge and successes are celebrated as students utilize music to practice Four Core Goal work while developing a leisure skill such as piano, guitar, ukulele, or drums

Creativity and joy are key components of each session and many students proudly display their abilities during performance opportunities. 

Please enjoy these videos: 

Oliver practicing referencing, gross motor coordination, and rhythm skills using a drum and movement to music.

Matt practicing sustained attention and fine motor coordination while playing guitar.

Seth practicing focused attention and working memory while reading music. 

For more information about Therapy Services -- Music Therapy for the community or as part of The Monarch School contact Cay Taylor at