On the Horizon – 9/20/11

Welcome to “On the Horizon”

Issue 162: The Pencil, Gumby and The Stress Ball

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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  • A Note from Nicole: SEE Program
  • Feature Article: The Pencil, Gumby and The Stress Ball
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events: Simple Solutions Seminar
  • Recommended Resources

I hope your week is off to a great start! This past weekend I had the privilege of attending a 2-day seminar about epilepsy called the SEE Program. It was by far one of the best seminars I have ever attended, which is a good thing when a seminar takes up the whole weekend! I would highly encourage any of you who have children with seizures, work with children who have seizures, or are impacted by seizures yourself to check out the SEE Program website. There are many helpful articles and other resources to help with understanding and treating epilepsy. I’m going to put together an article with some of the information I learned to share in a future edition of the newsletter.

Thanks to those of you who contacted us to let us know how much you like the new newsletter format! As a reminder, if you have questions you’d like us to answer in a future edition you can email them to us at questions@horizonsdrc.com. The question for this week is about birthday gift ideas. You can read below for my ideas!

Make sure to check out Erin’s new feature article about flexibility this week. She provides great information and strategies for dealing with inflexibility in our children and ourselves.

Make it a great week!

Looking to the horizon,


The Pencil, Gumby and The Stress Ball

By Erin Roon, MA CCC-SLP

Let’s face it we all have routines that help us manage our lives. I can think of at least three routines I use on work days: I have a definite routine that I follow each morning, and one before bed; I also follow the same route to work every day. Following these routines helps me to manage my day, and feel in control when starting and ending my day. I am sure many of you who are reading this article have some of the same routines. We utilize routines as a way to find control in what would otherwise be chaos.

There is nothing wrong with routines, unless we become so rigid and inflexible in them that we are unable to manage any kind of change or disruption to the routine. When this happens, we have a deficit that is creating a barrier to our quality of life. We become unable to see the possibilities, and miss out on many new experiences that can enrich our lives.

Most of us can be flexible in our routines. We can go with the flow, and bend enough to have new experiences. The changes may be small and happen over time or for short periods, and we can typically adapt. For people with autism spectrum disorders or other neurodevelopmental disorders, however being flexible and adapting to changes in routine can be extremely difficult. This can cause so much uncertainty and loss of control that the person cannot cope or find a way to adjust. This may cause the person to exhibit negative behaviors, cry, become more inflexible, or even cause him/her to flee the scene.

Click here to read the rest of this article…


My son’s 12th birthday coming up in a few weeks and I’m stumped about what to get him. I don’t want to get him anything related to video games/”screen time” since we have really worked on limiting his exposure to that. I’m looking for some ideas of engaging activities that he could enjoy on his own or that we could work on together. Do you have any ideas for me?

-Sue in Michigan


Hi Sue,

The gift-giving dilemma is one many parents have, especially when it comes to gifts that support development and engagement. Here are some ideas and resources you may find helpful:

  1. Snap Circuits – These come in different kits, but I like the Snap Circuits Jr. set best as a starting point. It has a book of projects that kids use to build things with electronic components. They can make a circuit board that runs a little fan, a light bulb, makes sounds, etc. The book has over 100 different things they can make – ranging from very simple to more complex. I use this with many kids at different functioning levels and it works out very well. If your son wasn’t able to do the projects on his own you could work together to make them. Snap Circuit kits are available in a variety of places online.
  2. Games – I love playing games with kids, as there are so many opportunities for enjoying time together while working on various skills. Make sure you are getting games that promote thinking and problem solving. Some games your son might enjoy include Doodle Dice, Pick and Draw, Knot-So-Fast, and Spot It. Marbles: The Brain Store has a fabulous selection of games for all ages and ability levels. You can check them out online here: http://www.marblesthebrainstore.com/
  3. Passes to area attractions and museums – If you’re looking for gifts that can be used throughout the year and don’t take up space in your home, then passes to places/events can be a great option. I know families who give their children a membership to the local zoo every year for their birthday, and it’s something they enjoy all year long. Other ideas include local museums, places that provide art classes/pottery making, open swim sessions, Bounce Party sessions, etc. Think about where your son enjoys going and see if you can get a membership or gift certificate for him.

I hope some of these ideas will work for your son.

Happy shopping,


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Upcoming Events

Simple Solutions Seminar

September 22, 7-8:30PM via teleseminar

The Freedom of Flexibility: Tips for Freeing Your Child and Family from the Prison of Rigid Thinking



Autism Transformation for Educators Audio Program

From Frustrated and Overwhelmed to Overwhelming Success: 10 Concepts That Will Transform the Way You Understand and Teach Students with Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders

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