On the Horizon – 01/16/13

Welcome to "On the Horizon"

Issue 210: Learning to Think Part Three: Continuing Mindfulness Throughout the Day

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 Dr. Beurkens
  • Feature Article: Learning to Think Part Three: Continuing Mindfulness Throughout the Day
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events
  • Recommended Resources

Hi Everyone!

This past weekend I hit a new parenting milestone – my oldest child turned 13 and I am now officially the parent of a teenager. It’s hard to believe how quickly time has gone, and my husband and I are certain we aren’t old enough to have a teen in the house! I was commiserating with a 15-year-old overseas client today via Skype and said, “It’s just really hard being a teenager.” He readily agreed! While I am used to teenagers in my professional life, having one at home is a whole different thing. Bring on the next phase of the parenting journey!

The featured article this week from Courtney continues her series about strategies to increase mindfulness in kids throughout the day at home and school. See which ideas you can implement in big or small ways this week. The Q&A this week is about rigid feeding patterns, and things to consider when making changes to foods.

I hope the rest of your week is fantastic!

Looking to the horizon,

Learning to Think Part Three: Continuing Mindfulness Throughout the Day

By Courtney Kowalczyk, M.Ed.

Winter is well underway here in Michigan, and the snow sure has been falling. It is such a wonderful sight to see children, young and old, out and about enjoying the wonderful scenery. My young son has become increasingly aware of the seasons, and it has been amazing for me to watch him make discoveries about the changes in his world. During this time of change, I continue to think about the mindfulness that is so important for every child. Watching my son think, learn, and process information related to the changing seasons has brought me more joy than I could have ever imagined.

In my last article, I discussed two strategies to increase students’ mindfulness throughout the school day. It is so important for our students to be learning to think independently, and not just learning rote skills that they cannot apply. Here are a few more strategies that I would like to share with you that will help increase the mindfulness of your students.

Click here to read the rest of this article…


I work with a child who is VERY limited in his food.  As of right now he only eats full cashews of the Fleet Farm Brand. (He won’t even eat pieces).  If we try anything else…a different brand or pieces of the same brand, it is a full meltdown and he refuses to eat anything.  Any suggestions on where to go with this?

-Vanessa in Indiana


Hi Vanessa,

It can be a challenge to work with children who have these types of rigid feeding patterns. Since I don’t have much information to go on in regards to this child, I can’t make many specific recommendations. My first recommendation is to make sure you have a team of knowledgeable people working with him on this issue, including appropriate medical providers who can support his physical health while working on these issues. Parents will also need education and support to ensure the issue is appropriately supported across environments.

When kids have extremely rigid feeding problems it takes time, attention, and careful scaffolding to help them broaden their diets. You indicated that any change to the food itself causes great distress for this child. Given that, I would start with changes that have nothing to do with the food itself. You can start by making small changes (variations) to the location where the nuts are eaten, the number of nuts put on the table at a time, the containers the nuts are placed in, giving him one and then you eating one, etc. The key is to find the amount of change that he IS able to tolerate, and then make more changes from there. Remember that if a child is completely overwhelmed, fearful, and upset about the change there is no learning that can come from it. To truly help a child become more comfortable with changes surrounding food you need to start with only the amount of change or variation they can tolerate. Hopefully that gives you some ideas to start playing with.

Good Luck,
Dr. Beurkens


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Upcoming dates and locations where Nicole Beurkens, PhD will be speaking:

Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Practical Strategies to Improve Processing

February 6, 2013 in Bridgeport, CT

February 7, 2013 in Cromwell, CT

February 8, 2013 in Warwick, RI


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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.

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