On the Horizon – 07/10/12

Welcome to “On the Horizon”

Issue 191: Progress is Measured in Inches, not Miles!

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: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
  • Feature Article:
    Progress is Measured in Inches, not Miles!
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events: Sibshop
  • Recommended Resources

Hi Everyone!

I hope your week is off to a great start! As some of you may know, my team and I are involved in a number of ongoing research studies related to relationships and neurodevelopmental disorders. I am thrilled to announce that the first of these studies, the one I conducted for my dissertation, has been published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. This study was the first to specifically look at the connection between autism symptom severity and parent-child interaction, and has significant implications for our understanding of how relationships and symptom severity are related. If you would like to check out the abstract, the article is currently available online by clicking here. It will be in a print edition of the JADD later this year. My co-authors, Drs. Jessica and Peter Hobson, and I are very pleased that the study is published, and already have another one well in the works to be published later this year. A big thanks to the many families who participated in this important study!

This week’s feature article by Erin encourages us to think about how we define progress. It was a good reminder for me as a clinician and parent, and I trust it will be for you as well. The Q&A this week provides some guidance for parents who feel like they have evaluated and treated their child endlessly, with not much to show for it. Perhaps you can relate?

Have a fantastic week!

Looking to the horizon,

Progress is Measured in Inches, not Miles!

By Erin Roon, MA CCC-SLP

Each time when I meet with families, we talk about the progress their child is making on their objectives. I start by asking parents to provide me with information on the successes they have seen in their child over the past few weeks. Sometimes the progress is measured in the smallest fraction of an inch, and at other times the child makes multiple inches of progress. Whether the progress is small or large, we view that as success. As the title of this article states, progress is measured in inches – not miles. I view every little success as adding up to inches that turn into miles.

There are times when families feel as though they are stuck and not making much progress. I will admit that sometimes the progress is really slow, but more often than not progress is being made; it just may not be in the area we are focusing on. I have parents come in to meet with me and report, “We don’t really feel like we have made progress on our objective”; and then they state, “Johnny is now fully potty trained.” Wow, that is huge progress in a month’s time; it just wasn’t progress on the specific objective we were targeting.  It can be really difficult sometimes to take that step back and find the progress; but I can guarantee that unless the child has been really ill or no work at all has been done, there will be some progress made.

Click here to read the rest of this article…


I read your newsletter each week and have gained a lot of great ideas from it. It also helps me to feel encouraged that I am not alone in facing challenges with my son. The question I have is about knowing what to do as far as treatment goes. I feel like we have brought my son to so many specialists in different fields, and he has received so many tests and recommendations. We’ve tried many different therapies but still we don’t see things fundamentally changing. Most days I still feel at a loss about how to parent him and help him progress. I’m not sure there is an answer to this question, but any insight you can give me would be great.

Nancy in Long Island, NY


Hi Nancy,

First of all, you are not alone in your frustration. So many of the families we see have been down this same path and feel the same sense of confusion and inadequacy as you do. Most of the clients we see have been given more tests than any person should deal with in a lifetime, and yet all that testing rarely leads to productive solutions! My colleagues and I think of ourselves as detectives; leaving no stone unturned to understand the problems and how best to solve them.

When we start working with a family, regardless of the amount of evaluations and treatments that have been done prior, we first look at what the underlying issues are and why the child isn’t making significant progress. Most of the time there are small but critical developmental details that have gone overlooked in the child, and there are important components of parent-child interaction that have not been addressed. When we can help parents engage with their child in ways that foster development in the critical areas, that is when change begins to happen. Evaluation needs to be both child and parent focused if it is going to lead to appropriate treatment recommendations and successful outcomes.

The first thing we do with virtually every new client is something called our FIRST Look assessment. This combination of 3 sessions, which can be done in person or over the phone/internet/video, allows us to get a complete understanding of the child’s challenges as well as what will be necessary to start the child and family on a more productive path. The goal is for parents to leave this initial series of 3 appointments with a much better understanding of their child’s needs and development, as well as specifically what is required for improvement.

Of all the families who have done this process with us, not one has ever said they didn’t leave understanding their child better, feeling more hopeful and competent, and having a clear plan to move forward. If it would be helpful to you to discuss this process with us you can contact our office to schedule a free phone consultation – info@horizonsdrc.com or (616) 698-0306. We will be happy to get more information about your son and discuss our FIRST Look evaluation process with you.

Thanks for being part of our community,

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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.

July 14th – 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:

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 27, 2012 in Butte, Montana

September 28, 2012 in Billings, Montana

October 18, 2012 in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania

October 19, 2012 in Cherry Hill, New Jersey


Learn as we grow

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.

More Information >>