We miss you Nicholas & family! Best of luck
to you as you move back to Reno, NV! Keep in touch!
|The Gill Family 2011
Nicholas Gill - riding with autism!
Open Arms Therapy
– Another success story
Gill is 7 years old and in 1st grade at Dalhart Elementary School. Nicholas has Autism. Nicholas
began riding with Open Arms Therapy (OAT) in 2009. When his mother was asked how the
program has affected her son, she replied: ‘Nicholas is a very precocious little man and has his
own mind about all sorts of things. He has been able to learn and follow instructions much better since
being in the OAT program.’ She also mentioned that Nicholas has become more confident as his riding
ability has improved and his confidence shows not only on horseback but also in social situations outside the program.
Another positive change that she has witnessed is that his enthusiasm for other interests has grown and this continues
to amaze her and Leon. When Nicholas was asked what his favorite part of OAT was right now he responded,
“… riding the little horse”. OAT has a black Welch/cross pony named ‘Cricket’
that was donated to the program by Kathleen O’Shea of Blarney Stone Equestrian Center in Lubbock, Texas and it is this
special pony that Nicholas is so fond of. This little pony is the perfect size for a
determined individual like Nicholas. Nicholas loves to be independent and is now able to mount (climb into
the saddle) and dismount (step down from the saddle) without the help of the ‘stairs’. ‘Nicholas is a crazy,
wonderful, interesting and loving boy who just happens to have Autism too’ says Nicholas’ mother.
With the help of OAT his parents hope he will continue growing in his ability to overcome social and emotional challenges.
Meanwhile, Nicholas is a pleasure to have in the program and as anyone who has assisted with Nicholas in riding session
can tell you; ‘watching him overcome challenges and watching his confidence and ability grow is truly something that
makes a person smile!’
Nicholas’s parents are Leon and Christine
Gill. Leon Gill moved to Dalhart in December 2008 followed by his wife Christine and son Nicholas in February
2009. The Gill family moved to Dalhart from Reno, Nevada when Hilmar Cheese Company began operations in
Dalhart. Leon is an Employee Relations Specialist at Hilmar Cheese Company. Leon and Christine both grew
up in small towns in northern Nevada. Moving to the big city of Reno to attend college was quite a change.
Both of them graduated from the University of Nevada in Reno; Christine with a BS in Textile and Apparel
Merchandising in and Leon with a BA in English in. Christine recalls the transition of moving to Dalhart.
Christine says ‘I was so sad for my little man’. It was hard on Nicholas
to come home from school and not have his Dad there. During that time the family would remain connected
using Skype, an internet technology that allows people to talk and even see each other over the internet. Skype
enabled Nicholas to see his dad over the computer. It wasn’t the same as seeing him in person but
it was ‘pretty good’ according to Christine.
Nicholas is a proud big brother to Travis Ray who was born in December of 2010. According
to Christine ‘Travis has added so much to our family and we feel so blessed to have two wonderful boys’.
The Gill’s were blessed even further when Christine’s parents, Garry and Kathy Thielen, moved to Dalhart
from Battle Mountain, Nevada after her dad retired. According to Christine, ‘They are a huge part
of our lives and having them move to Texas to be with our kids is such a joy’. It is Garry that routinely
takes Nicholas to OAT session on Monday nights while Christine is home with the baby.
The most important ‘hobby’ to the
Gill family is spending time together as a family. Leon and Nicholas take advantage of the nice weather
and they go on hiking adventures down in the canyon. The family also enjoys an occasional trip to Amarillo
for some fun in the ‘big city’. Christine enjoys making hand beaded jewelry and creating one-of-a-kind
beaded pieces. ‘It is definitely my passion and has kept me busy between the boys and family’.
Leon enjoys running and is planning his first marathon in April. The marathon is in Oklahoma.
‘Leon is a wonderful writer’, says Christine, and he continues to pursue that passion when he has time.
The Gill’s love our small town of Dalhart and are especially amazed by the care, concern, friendly
and helpful nature of the people who live here.
|Nicholas Gill riding Cricket
|Nicholas Gill riding Cricket