Having Home Coach Cindy Dawkins as part of the Unyte-iLs team is nothing short of a gift. Not only does Cindy have a wealth of experience having worked in both in and outpatient facilities, but it is also her focus on pediatrics that makes her the ideal coach for families and children using the Unyte Home Program.
In 2008 while working in a pediatric outpatient setting, Cindy first heard about Unyte-iLs’s Focus System. Encouraged by the transformative nature of the Focus System, Cindy decided to become a trained provider.
For Cindy, hearing from parents about the positive changes they saw in their children after working with her and using the system only bolstered her belief in its power as an additional therapeutic tool.
Says Cindy, “The tools that I had been using began to be accelerated in their effectiveness. The efficiency with which I was doing my therapy sessions shifted. I realized that I had something [in the Focus System] that allowed me to be a better therapist because it gave me more access to a child’s neuroplasticity.”
It’s been nearly twelve years since Cindy was first introduced to Unyte-iLs’ programs. Now, as a Home Coach, she brings her expertise, her compassion, and her passion to the work she does.
Meet Home Coach Cindy Dawkins
What led you to Unyte-iLs?
In an outpatient facility, I had the privilege of seeing transformational changes in children using the Focus System in a very short amount of time even before I was trained in it. I was stunned at the progress of children using the Focus System who had been stuck during many years of therapy interventions where they had experienced few gains. This began my intrigue and my pursuit to receive training.
Walk me through your specific approach to using the Unyte Home Program.
With the lens of an healthcare professional, a mother of 3 grown daughters and grandmother to 5 grandchildren, providing support, knowledge, creativity and practical solutions to problems is an important part of the process. When meeting with the family, I want to understand the reason for seeking out the program, respect the uniqueness of their family culture and time limitations, and ensure I maintain a listening ear, which in turn allows me to provide a service that is completely different from an in-clinic therapy approach.
Why is it important to work with a coach on this journey?
Having a professional to guide and direct you through this process is invaluable. It is so important to have someone looking at the big picture, to help figure out what is the most important thing to focus in on with a developmental / neurological perspective. It is important that the program being coached does not move so fast that it is overwhelming to the client or too slow that the program becomes boring and uninviting due to a lack of perceived progress. The Home Coach serves as a mentor and a cheerleader to the families who work so hard to bring this incredible program to their family members. It can be hard work and having someone providing a fresh look at the program periodically and guiding the family can be very enlightening and encouraging.
What does Home Coach support look like? What should a client expect?
When I begin working with a client, it is important for me to have some identifying information about their family member(s) regarding medical history, academic history, and specific goals whether it is related to language, movement, cognitive or sensory needs. Once I receive the information, a consultation is set up, preferably via video, to get to know them and review the information sent to me prior to the meeting. I give instructions regarding the use of the Unyte Home Program, how to implement its use, what to look for while doing the program and establish our next communication to check in.
Usually within a few weeks we meet or email again, this is usually an update of the program or to troubleshoot any concerns a client might have. At the halfway mark of the program, we set up a chat again to reflect on the gains, re-establish goals, and bring new ideas on implementation for the remainder of the program. We meet at the end of the program to debrief and discuss further programs if warranted. Some families require more supervision, some less. It is unique with each client.
How do you build a unique approach for each family / individual you work with?
The uniqueness of the families drives the direction we pursue. I meet the family members in the security of their homes and work with the tools that are successful for their family, especially with regard to virtual school, home schooling, working from home, social distancing and the needs that have surfaced from being primarily home bound. I am quite aware that the family members are cognizant of the needs within their family and the signs of progress or regression that are a result of bringing a new modality into the treatment plan. Trusting the family to verbalize their needs and working to create a plan that is practical for all is a main priority. It is a joy to establish relationships with families that often last for many years.
What do you like about working with the Unyte Home Program?
As a health professional using the Unyte-iLs in a clinic setting, I have received more specific reports of progress from family members than I did when seeing the child in the clinic. Often the family did not recognize the progress when the majority of the sessions were completed in the clinic, but when it is implemented in the home, using the Unyte Home Program, and under their instruction, they see themselves as a part of success. When parents have the information on how to present and carry out the program and they are vigilant in their pursuits, progress is evident. The joy that comes from those emails and conversations ignite inspiration to continue.
Why should someone sign up for the Unyte Home Program?
Neuro-typical and atypical individuals that have the opportunity to create brain change, in the privacy of their homes, with a specialized coach to direct them and support them will discover a secret weapon that can improve their mood, communication skills, coordination and balance, organization skills, attention and focus, mental alertness, sleep, and visual response time. Why not?
Can you tell me about a specific person (adult, child or family) who has used this program? How have you seen the program change them over time?
The most current on my mind is a preteen boy who was presenting with some learning challenges, mostly falling behind on tasks. He did not have a diagnosis but was demonstrating very poor emotional regulation and self esteem. He was socially awkward and participated minimally in class but was a completely different child at home. There was a lot of opposition, grouchiness, refusal to do any schoolwork, etc. He began with the Focus System Sensory Motor Program and completed it with some successes noted, especially with emotional regulation. Halfway through the program, his mother reported that he was more regulated, calmer and happier.
However, once he finished the Focus System Sensory Motor Program, he had a bit of a setback. And so we started the Safe and Sound Protocol (SSP), from that we saw him start to express his feelings more. His anger toward the family members was significantly decreased. His relationship with his dad improved and his overall emotional reactivity calmed down.
Need I say more?
What would you say to someone—a family or individual—who’s considering signing up for the Unyte Home Program?
This is a program that has the opportunity to grow with your family. It can impact slow development, coordination and balance issues, slow processing, learning challenges, executive functioning skills, difficulty with transitions and change, and works from age 18 months to 100 years. There are programs that can be repeated year after year when life hands you uncommon challenges or programs that can move one from one developmental level to the next all the way up to adulthood. It is beneficial for those with or without diagnoses.
If a client were to walk up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would it be?
Do the Unyte Home Program and stay as active as possible while doing it. Change up the routine while listening to give the brain as much change as possible. Raise your heart rate using as much of your body as you can. The brain absolutely loves activity and novelty.
What do you do for fun?
Gardening—I love digging in the dirt, cutting down limbs, watching things grow. I also love to play the piano while my husband plays guitar and my kids and grandkids sing. It’s absolute bliss. Reading—I’m always reading! And I do love DIY renovation projects.
What is your favorite:
Prayer—that is my anchor
Food to cook?
Subject to read about?
Anything and everything Neuro; knowledge always gives me new ideas for my ILS programs
What does kindness mean to you?
Stopping and taking time for someone else, meeting a need, listening, and bringing joy.