On the Horizon – 09/05/12

Welcome to "On the Horizon"

Issue 197: Gluten Free Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Healthy

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: Transition into the School Year
  • Feature Article:
    Gluten Free Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Healthy
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events
  • Recommended Resources

Hi Everyone!

September is here and the kids are back to school. All the kids in our house had a good first day back, despite the busses running terribly late. I received the whole run-down of bussing activities and mishaps at dinner tonight. Sounds like the transportation director probably had a major migraine by the end of the day! I was glad to get many positive comments from client families about their kids’ first days of school as well. One of the homeschooling moms I work with told me that she was ready to start back to school last week, but her high-school age son told her that he required the long Labor Day weekend off. Can’t blame him for wanting the same schedule as the rest of the kids in town!

I’m excited about Michelle’s feature article this week, as it covers a topic that comes up often in our office. While it can be a very healthy choice for families to remove gluten (and other problematic foods) from their diets, the words “gluten free” are not synonymous with “healthy”. Michelle provides some helpful ideas for making sure that your family eats gluten-free in a healthy way.

With the start of the new school year you may be looking for some helpful professional development opportunities. See the sidebar for locations I will be speaking at this fall. If you can’t attend in person you can click here to see DVD and audio CD versions of this popular seminar.

Check out the Q&A section below for some new game ideas you can play at home or school!

Have a fantastic week!

Looking to the horizon,

Gluten Free Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Healthy

By Michelle VanderHeide, LLBSW

My family started down the gluten free path several months ago. The first thing I did was empty my cupboards of everything that contained gluten so that I didn’t need to worry about whether particular items fit our new lifestyle. My cupboards and refrigerator were safe for everybody. The next thing I did was to run to the store and buy things to replace what I had removed. I bought gluten free brownie, cookie, and muffin mixes; chips, crackers, bread mixes, and a slew of different flours. While I was in the process of determining which gluten free foods we liked, I was doing a lot of baking and a lot of throwing food away. The foods that required no flour asked for a lot of sugar, such as fudge and no bake cookies. My dentist husband observed that our gluten filled foods turned to sugar filled foods. He wisely asked me one day, “Do we really need to replace these foods?” It was like a truck hit me. Who really needs cookies, muffins, and brownies?

Click here to read the rest of this article…


My husband and I enjoy playing games with our two sons, and have used games as a great avenue for addressing our older son’s developmental challenges. I realized the other day that we are all bored with many of the games we have and need to get some new ideas. I know you have written before about using games in your clinic. Can you recommend some fresh ideas for our family? The boys are ages 7 and 11.

Thank you,
Debbie in Jackson, MI


Hi Debbie,

I’m so glad that you and your family enjoy playing games together! There are so many different ways to adapt games to meet whatever developmental objectives you are working on at the time. I went through our game room and found some new ones that I hope you and your boys enjoy!

  1. Rory’s Story Cubes – There are multiple versions of this game, but they all entail rolling pictured dice to create limitless stories and ideas. The game can be played alone or as a group. I have a few families who have used this game to support their child’s language development and creativity.
  2. Headbanz – Who doesn’t love a game that involves wearing something on your head? Each headband holds a card that the wearer can’t see, and players take turn asking and answering questions to try to guess what card is on their head. While this game does require the ability to generate questions and accurately respond to them, it can be played in teams so everyone can play regardless of language ability.
  3. Scrambled States – This game can be played a variety of ways depending on the skills you’d like to spotlight. It involves visual discrimination, riddles, maps, and more. Again, it can be played in teams to accommodate players who are unable to play independently.
  4. Blink – This fast-paced card game helps develop visual discrimination, categorizing, and processing speed. It’s portable and moves quickly, making it a great choice for playing the car, while waiting for events to start, or other times you need a quick way to pass the time.

Happy gaming!

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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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