On the Horizon: 08/08/12

Welcome to “On the Horizon”

Issue 194: Happy Birthday to You!
How to Celebrate Your Child’s Special Day Appropriately

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: Summer break coming to an end
  • Feature Article:
    Happy Birthday to You!
    How to Celebrate Your Child’s Special Day Appropriately
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events
  • Recommended Resources

Hi Everyone!

August is in full swing and I’m not sure where the summer went. I know some of you already have children back in school, and my kids have just a few more weeks before they start again. They are determined to squeeze every last ounce of fun out of their vacation time! After just returning from a conference in Orlando I am going to enjoy some weeks without travel. However, this fall I will be traveling to Montana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia to do professional training. Check out the events calendar on the right to see if I’ll be speaking near you!

The feature article this week provides helpful tips from Courtney about planning birthday parties that are big on fun and small on overwhelm. These are great things for all parents to keep in mind, especially if you have a child with a neurodevelopmental disorder.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Looking to the horizon,

Happy Birthday to You!
How to Celebrate Your Child’s Special Day Appropriately

By Courtney Kowalczyk, M.Ed.

Over the past few months, a few of my clients have asked “how should we celebrate our child’s birthday, taking into consideration his or her special needs.” This is an important question on many levels, since we all want to celebrate special occasions with family; however, this can sometimes be too much for many of our children with special needs. Here are a few ideas and strategies to use so that you can celebrate your child’s birthday without making the event too overwhelming for the child and yourself!

Limit the guest list! All too often, we find ourselves inviting to birthday parties family members whom we generally don’t see very often. Even though it may be uncomfortable for you not to invite them, think about how overwhelmed your child may feel if there are several people around whom he or she may not know. If you feel the need to invite all of your family and friends, then split the party up into a couple of different occasions. By limiting the number of guests, you can help to reduce the anxiety and fear of uncertainty that your child may be facing.

Click here to read the rest of this article…


My daughter has been doing well on the same antidepressant medication for the past 3 years. However, two months ago she began acting differently and the depressive symptoms seem to be returning. There have been no changes in her life or our family life, so this change doesn’t make sense. The pharmacy order service we use switched her to the generic form of her medication, as they said the generic just became available recently and we have to take that now instead of the name brand. I don’t know if this is making a difference or not. Do you have any thoughts on why she would suddenly be doing worse?

-Barb in Kalamazoo, MI


Hi Barb,

I have to preface my response by stating that I am not a medical doctor and cannot advise you regarding your daughter’s medication needs. There are a number of things that could be going on to suddenly cause a worsening of symptoms. However, your question raises an important issue that I think is worth addressing for our community. The issue of generic medications is one that should be considered when looking at a situation such as your daughter’s.

Most people think that generic medications are identical to the name brand medications, and in many ways this is true. Generic medications must contain the same active ingredients as the brand name products, be dosed in the same concentrations, and act the same way in the body.

However, the inert ingredients, preservatives, and packaging do not need to be identical. This leaves open the possibility that a person could have a different response to a generic as compared to a brand name medication. Even though the amount and type of active ingredient is identical, the person’s body may respond differently to inert ingredients or other differences.

While this may not happen frequently, it does happen; and I have seen this in a handful of clients over the years. Based on the information you provided it would be worth having a discussion with your daughter’s prescriber about the timing of the medication change and the worsening of her symptoms.

If the generic medication is suspected then a change back to the original name brand medication may be warranted. Depending on your insurance plan you may need a prescription from the doctor with a note to “dispense as written” in order to receive the name brand instead of the generic. I hope you are able to figure out what is going on so your daughter can feel better!

Take Care,

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Upcoming Events

Hear Nicole Speak

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

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.

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