On the Horizon – 03/31/2009

Horizons Developmental Remediation Center
On the Horizon
On the Horizon

Welcome to “On the Horizon”

Issue 54: Prioritizing Needs and Treatment for Children with Autism

On the Horizon is an award winning weekly ezine for parents of children with developmental disabilities who want simple, effective strategies to reduce stress, support their child’s development, and improve quality of life for the whole family.

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In This Issue

Great Strategies

A Note from Nicole: Update on Our Book; Appropriate Treatment Choices

Idea of the Week:  April Fools Food Surprises

Feature Article: Prioritizing Needs and Treatment for Children with Autism

The Horizons Team Recommends: Learning
as we Grow; Summer CAMPS

Upcoming Events: Sibshop; CORE Approach Parent Teleseminar

A Note From Nicole
Nicole Beurkens

Hi Everyone!

Just when it felt like spring was finally here, we had a couple inches of snow yesterday! Even though we always get one last little burst of snow in the spring, I am eternally optimistic that perhaps it won’t happen
this year. Oh well, we’re due for a bit of a warm up later this week. I’ll be in Los Angeles, so I will get better weather regardless of what happens here in Michigan!

I’ve got great news to share with you all—our books have arrived from the
printer and we will begin shipping all the preliminary orders this
week! Please be sure to email and let us know what you think once
you receive your copy. Haven’t placed your order yet? You can
get all the details here.

My feature article this week focuses on the important topic of prioritizing your child’s
needs and making appropriate treatment choices. This is something
that can cause a lot of confusion, distress, and frustration for
parents. Knowing how to prioritize in order to make the best use of
your time, finances, and energy is critical.

Enjoy your week!

Looking to the horizon,

Nicole Signature

Idea of the Week


April Fools Food Surprises

April Fools Day is tomorrow, here a few fun food surprises you may
want to try:
  • Ice Cream Potatoes – scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with caramel or butterscotch sauce gravy
  • Grilled Cheese – pound cake cut into bread-like slices toasted in a toaster, spread with white frosting that has been colored with yellow & red food coloring to make it look orange. Slice in half and you have a grilled cheese sandwich.
  • French Fries – take a package of plain breadstick dough and unroll it – cut it into ¼ inch-wide sticks. Roll them in sugar and bake according to the package directions. Put them in a fast fry sleeve (or the cut-off end of an envelope) and serve with a side of ketchup (strawberry jam).

Feature Article

Prioritizing Needs and Treatment for Children with Autism

Nicole Beurkens, M.Ed.

I recently had a parent refer to the many needs of her daughter in this way: “It’s like there are three floors of the house burning! Where do we start and which level do we fight the fire on first?” This provides
an excellent visual metaphor for determining priorities in treatment.

When a child has
autism, or another neurodevelopmental disorder, there are many areas
of need to consider. The pervasive nature of the diagnosis leaves
little unscathed in terms of development and functioning. The extent
to which each area of functioning is impacted varies, but it’s
safe to say that all children on the spectrum are affected by their
autism in numerous areas. There are communication problems, social
interaction problems, restricted behaviors, rigid thinking, and other
issues that come from having the core deficits of autism. Then, for
many kids on the spectrum, there are the co-occurring problems to
address such as impulsivity, feeding problems, sensory processing
problems, motor deficits, academic problems, and more. The list can
go on and on depending on the child and it can, indeed, feel like all
three floors of the house are burning.

Once you have carefully
and thoroughly identified the conditions and areas of functioning
that require treatment, the question becomes what to treat, when to
treat it, and how to treat it. The pervasive nature of these
disorders is the equivalent of a house that burning from a fire that
started in the foundation. There are a few options to consider when
making these decisions:

  • If all three floors are burning, there may be a tendency to decide to try to throw a lot of water on everything in an effort to put the entire fire out at once. I have seen parents do this and the result is generally unfortunate for everyone involved. Parents can become completely overwhelmed trying to address everything at once; comprehending multiple therapies, driving to get to therapies, having many people in your home, paying for services, and trying to stay emotionally stable in the midst of it all. Trying to treat everything at once can lead to burned out parents and burned out kids. It can also lead to the house burning down, because by throwing water at the whole fire at once you will not be able to concentrate enough in one area to make a real dent in the fire. You might keep the fire from spreading, and you might reduce the flames a little on each level, but the fire itself will keep on burning on every level.
  • One could also decide to concentrate water on the area that seems to be the most obvious – the top of the house where the flames are shooting out. This can be thought of as the approach of treating the most obvious problems first – my child isn’t talking, doesn’t look at me, doesn’t know how to make friends, and/or doesn’t behave normally; so we’re going to treat those things right away. That seems like a logical plan on the surface, but the problem is that it is the equivalent of putting out the fire from the top floor first. You might save the top floor, but there is no foundation to hold it up. What you end up with is part of a house that is salvaged, but can’t support itself. This is what happens when we choose a skill-based approach to treatment that does not focus on core developmental issues that need to be addressed.


The Horizons Team Recommends

Learning as we Grow

Learning as we Grow

You’ve Been Asking For It – The Resource for Applying Principles of Remediation in School Settings is Finally Here!

This long-awaited book is written for parents and professionals who want to be more effective in their work with students who have neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism.

You will learn how to:

  • Identify the core features of neurodevelopmental disorders that create communication, learning, and relationship challenges for your students
  • Shift from a mindset of working around deficits (compensation) to correcting the root issues that create obstacles for your students (remediation)
  • Modify your communication to promote your students’ communication and thinking abilities
  • Identify the unique strengths and obstacles of each student in order to determine appropriate placement and programming
  • Achieve meaningful outcomes for students that allow them to reach their greatest potential
For more information, click here

Summer CAMPS 2009

CAMPS 2009

Your child is going to LOVE the exciting adventures we have planned for
this summer! Each week we will explore a different theme together,
complete with lots of opportunities for movement, music, problem
solving, working together, and indoor and outdoor fun. Our camps are
designed to offer a fun, safe, and therapeutic environment for children
with developmental disabilities to engage with peers, try new things,
and retain skills over the summer months. A low staff to child ratio
ensures that everyone is supported. Principles of the Relationship
Development Intervention (RDI)® Program are integrated throughout all
activities, which provides opportunities for campers to improve
communication, increase competence, enhance regulation, and build

For more details on our Summer Programs, click here

Upcoming Events

join us!

See our Event Calendar for more details…

On the Horizon is a weekly ezine for parents of children with developmental disabilities who want simple, effective strategies to reduce stress, support their child¹s development, and improve quality of life for the whole family.

Our mailing address is:

Horizons Developmental Remediation Center

3120 68th Street SE

Caledonia, MI  49316

Our telephone:

(616) 698-0306

Our email address:


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