On the Horizon – 07/28/2009

Horizons Developmental Remediation Center
On the Horizon
On the Horizon

Welcome to “On the

Issue 70: The Limits of Labels: Evaluation Results That Really Matter

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

Summer Fun

A Note from Nicole: Warm Welcome to New Friends from the ASA Conference

Idea of the Week: Play with Water Balloons

Feature Article: The Limits of Labels: Evaluation Results That Really Matter

The Horizons Team Recommends: Therapy Shoppe® ; Learning as We Grow

Upcoming Events: CORE Approach Parent Teleseminar; Sibshop

A Note From Nicole Nicole Beurkens

Hi Everyone!

It’s the start of another incredibly busy week at Horizons as we continue with summer camps and get ready for our Extreme Makeover: Autism Education Edition Workshop later this week. Erin and I spent part of last week in Chicago attending the Autism Society of America annual conference. We hosted a table in the exhibit hall and met many wonderful parents and professionals. I want to extend a very warm welcome to the hundreds of new subscribers this week who attended the ASA conference. It was great meeting you in person, and we look forward to sharing with you each week through our newsletter.

The featured article this week addresses the very important topic of
evaluation. I make the argument that we should focus more on individual strengths and obstacles as opposed to getting hung up on the names we give things. Many people have told us this article is a favorite of theirs, and I hope you enjoy it as well.

Have a wonderful week!

Looking to the horizon,

Nicole Signature

Idea of the Week

Water Balloons

Play with Water Balloons

Play with water balloons together.
Fill up a bunch of different sized water balloons and toss them back
and forth from different heights to see what will happen. Drop water
balloons onto different surfaces and see how easily they break. You can
even just have a good old-fashioned fun water balloon fight!

Feature Article Family Picnic

The Limits of Labels: Evaluation Results That Really Matter

By: Nicole Beurkens, M.Ed.

When a child is not developing as expected, the first thing most parents and professionals attempt to do is figure out a name for what is going on. The assessment or evaluation process is often viewed as the path to
determine an appropriate diagnosis or label for individuals.
Disability labels become the gatekeepers for services and supports in
schools and the broader community. Parents and professionals therefore become very invested in the name that is given to a child’s condition, both to understand more about the child and to secure treatment. This is a completely normal reaction for parents, as they want what is best for their children and must seek it in a system that provides or denies support based on their child’s label.

It is important to recognize the two very different systems of labeling or
classifying individuals. In the medical realm, with which most parents
are accustomed, tests and procedures are conducted in order to provide
a medical diagnosis for a condition. The treatment that follows is
based on the presence of the particular condition that was diagnosed.
In the realm of psychological evaluation, however, the scenario is
quite different and unfamiliar to most parents. The purpose of these
evaluations is to determine how an individual is functioning, and
whether or not their particular patterns of skills and behaviors meet
the criteria for disorders in the realms of thinking, behavior, and
emotions. This type of evaluation process is often less precise than
medical testing and diagnosis, and is typically not directly linked to

What often gets missed in the process of categorizing an individual’s conditions is that labels can only begin to describe the complex mix of strengths, obstacles, personality traits, thoughts, behaviors, and emotions within that individual. Labels, or diagnostic categories, are the method used to characterize general subgroups of people with certain types of symptoms. They are open to a significant amount of subjective
interpretation, and cannot capture the entire essence of any
individual. It is not uncommon for an individual to receive one
specific diagnosis from practitioner A, a different diagnosis from
practitioner B, etc. This can be extremely frustrating and confusing
for parents and professionals, and may lead them to wonder why we would even label people in the first place.


The Horizons Team Recommends

Therapy Shoppe®

The extraordinary little sensory-motor specialty shoppe!

We feature over 1500 innovative therapy and sensory tools including: fidgets, oral motor goodies, weighted/deep pressure favorites, one-of-a-kind therapy kits, sleeping specialties, fine motor toys, spinning boards, play and social skill resources, and much, much more!

Therapy Shoppe® Inc.

PO Box 8875

Grand Rapids, MI 49518



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

Upcoming Events

Pleasejoin us!

On the
is a weekly ezine for parents of
children with developmental disabilities who want simple, effective
strategies to reduce stress, support their child\’b9s 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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