On the Horizon – 05/09/12

Welcome to “On the Horizon”

Issue 185: The Gut and Nutrition

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.

To keep receiving On the Horizon, please add the email address “nicolebeurkens@horizonsdrc.com” to your safe address list.

  • A Note from Nicole: Welcome New Subscribers from Autism Society of Wisconsin
  • Feature Article:
    The Gut and Nutrition
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events: Sibshop
  • Recommended Resources

Hi Everyone!

I hope your week is going well! This past weekend I enjoyed giving the final keynote address at the Autism Society of Wisconsin annual conference in Green Bay. Aside from some flight hassles and a very roundabout way of getting there, the trip was a good one. I want to welcome those of you who are reading this newsletter for the first time after seeing me at that event!

This week’s featured article is all about the gut and nutrition. Erin discusses the importance of considering diet and other approaches to address a variety of symptoms. While this is not a necessity for all families, it can make a big difference for some individuals with neurodevelopmental issues.

The reader question this week is about activities that can be done with children who have neurodevelopmental issues and their siblings. I provide some ideas and resources for all parents.

Make it an awesome week!

Looking to the horizon,

The Gut and Nutrition

By Erin Roon, MA CCC-SLP, Certified Nutrition Consultant

We see many children and young adults in our practice, and find that many of them benefit from a special diet, elimination of certain foods, or use of supplements. There are many conflicting studies out there that make it difficult to know for sure if there is a connection between nutrition/gut issues and autism; but I can say that in our experience it seems to be true for many. Like the population as a whole, one rule doesn’t apply to all. I see some children who do not seem to be affected at all by the things they eat – no gut problems, bowel issues, or behavior that would indicate feeling ill, or high levels of yeast – while others seem to be very affected by all of these things.  It can take a lot of time and effort to sort this all out, but the differences can be remarkable when a child is feeling well and getting proper nutrition.

Click here to read the rest of this article…


I enjoy reading your newsletter each week and always find a lot of great support and strategies! One thing I struggle with is coming up with ideas of things to do with my two children. I have a 7 year-old son who is blind and has a cognitive impairment. I also have a 4 year-old daughter who doesn’t have any disabilities. When we have time to do things together I’m not sure what to do, and struggle to come up with ideas that allow me to be with both kids at the same time. Do you have any suggestions?

Laila in Kentucky


Hi Laila,

Thanks for your kind words about this newsletter and I’m so glad you find it a beneficial resource! You certainly have a lot on your plate at home with your son and daughter. I love that you are thinking about how to involve both of them with you throughout the day. It can be a challenge to come up with new ideas and ways to involve a child with neurodevelopmental issues along with a sibling. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Do chores together – You have to do them anyway, so you might as well include your children. Each of them can take different roles, and you will need to experiment to figure out what part of each task will work for each of them. For example, if you are putting the dishes in the dishwasher one child can hand you the dishes, you can rinse them, and one child can place them in the dishwashers. Have them help you dust, sweep the floor, get the mail, and other everyday tasks. Kids enjoy helping, and these tasks build excellent thinking skills that lead to greater independence.
  • Play games together – Choose games that can be simplified for your son but that everyone can enjoy. You can also have your son play on a “team” with you so that you can give him a specific role that will be more appropriate for him. That way he can leave the game when he’s had enough, and you can finish the game with your daughter.
  • Create things together – Use a variety of art materials to create things individually or as a group. This is something you can all do together at the table, but that you can tailor to meet each child’s needs. When the weather is nice you can create art projects together outside – use sidewalk chalk on the driveway, put water in spray bottles and “paint” the house, or put food coloring in bubble solution and make rainbows together.

These are just a few ideas of some ways you can include both your son and your daughter in activities throughout the day. For more ideas you can check out our Do Something Daily calendar, where you will find 365 ideas for engaging your children in meaningful activities. It provides lots of ideas many people haven’t thought of, as well as reminders of everyday tasks. You can find the calendar here. Have fun finding new ways to enjoy time with your kids!

My best,

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Upcoming Events


Looking for an opportunity designed for SIBLINGS of children with autism or other developmental disorders?

Siblings of children with autism or other disabilities have their own unique needs and experiences, and we use the renowned Sibshop model designed to provide them with support, education, and fun.

May 12th – 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Cost is $20 per child – Sibshop is held at Horizons in our sensory room. We will do a combination of movement and discussion activities, arts and crafts, and games. Participants need to bring a lunch. Snack will be provided.

RESERVE YOUR SPOT TODAY by clicking here, emailing our office info@horizonsdrc.com, or by calling us at (616) 698-0306.


Hear Nicole Speak

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

AutismOne/Generation Rescue Conference 2012

May 23-27, 2012
Chicago, Illinois

MAGIC Foundation Annual Convention

July 19-22, 2012
Chicago, Illinois

American Psychological Association Annual Convention

August 2-5, 2012
Orlando, Florida

Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Practical Strategies to Improve Processing

September 26, 2012 in Missoula, Montana

September 28, 2012 in Billings, Montana


Do Something Daily Calendar

The Calendar offers a daily dose of inspiration and ideas for spending time together—whether you have 60 seconds or 60 minutes.

More Information >>