On the Horizon – 10/25/11

Welcome to “On the Horizon”

Issue 167: What Makes You Tick?

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: Connecting with Friends
  • Feature Article: What Makes You Tick?
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events: Parent Education Day, Simple Solutions Seminar & Sibshop
  • Recommended Resources

This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend time with some friends in Chicago. The weather was sunny and warm, and we enjoyed catching up on each other’s lives, eating at great restaurants, and shopping. I was reminded how important it is to periodically connect with friends on a deeper level; to focus on those relationships in person and away from the busyness of life. The weekend left me rejuvenated and looking forward to the next time we can all get together. When is the last time you took some time away to connect with someone important to you? Maybe it’s time to plan a get-together with close friends you haven’t been able to connect with in a while!

Speaking of spending time doing things that are rejuvenating, Michelle’s feature article this week spotlights the need to recognize what “makes us tick”. It’s so important to find ways to set boundaries in life that protect the things we value most, and keep us mentally and physically healthy. When parents are attuned with what they need, children thrive. Are you in touch with what makes you tick?

Wondering about the amount of time your child spends engaged in “screen time”? Check out the question and answer below on this important topic!

Enjoy your week!

Looking to the horizon,


What Makes You Tick?

By Michelle VanderHeide, BSW

It was one of those perfect days. The sun was out, the temperature was just right, around 70 degrees. The pressures of life were minimal for a few hours, but a wonderful few hours they were. I walked outside to join my daughters while they played. I planted some flowers, pulled some weeds, and freshened up the look of my front yard landscaping. Once I finished, one of the girls suggested that we go for a bike ride. The males of the family were taking a nice Sunday afternoon nap, so I thought “Sure!” – and off we went with the girls’ “American Girl Dolls” in the baby seat behind me. We rode around and ended up at a nearby park. The girls and their dolls enjoyed a little time at the park and then we journeyed home. When we arrived back, the boys were awake, so we started a riveting game of family kick ball. This to me was a perfect afternoon. I felt refreshed and reenergized as I faced a new week.

So what makes you tick? Are you giving yourself the time to do the things you need to do to stay healthy and be fully available and calm for your child(ren)?

Click here to read the rest of this article…


My 10-year-old son with ADHD doesn’t have many activities he seems to enjoy, except watching television and playing his video games. I know it’s probably not good for him to spend all of his free time doing these things, but it’s the only thing he wants to do. He spends at least 5 hours a day doing these things, and I’m starting to feel like it’s too much. How much time do you think I should let him watch TV and play video games?

-Lana in St. Joseph, Michigan


Hi Lana,

This is a question I get asked frequently so I’m glad you brought it up! I lump watching TV, playing video games, and doing things on the computer in the same category of “screen time”, and recommend that children have no more than 1.5 hours each day of all of these activities combined (ideally I’d like kids to have less than one hour, but I know that is tough for a lot of people to consider!). There are many important reasons to limit your son’s amount of screen time. The more he is absorbed in those activities the less he is aware of and engaged in activities that can support his development, including spending time with family members, helping out around the house, playing outside, etc.

Even though he likes screen time and doesn’t seem to have other interests, it’s unlikely he will find other interests and expand his competence with other activities when he is constantly engaging in screen time. There are many studies that point to the negative effects of these passive screen-based activities on children, including problems with physical health, emotional health, relational skills, impulse control, and cognition. I won’t get into the details of these issues here, but suffice it to say there are many excellent reasons to limit the amount of time your son spends in front of these activities.

I recommend setting firm boundaries on the amount of time he can engage in screen time, and start reducing the amount by a little bit each day or week. Set a goal that you feel is reasonable and take the remote, video games, etc. away when his time is up for the day. Don’t worry if he can’t find other things to occupy his time right away. It may take him a little time to grumble and resign himself to doing different activities. Stick with it and start enjoying more time together without screens!

Good luck,


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Upcoming Events

Parent Education Day

October 29th, 10am-3:30pm

for Horizons families

Simple Solutions Seminar

November 17, 7-8:30PM via teleseminar

Don’t Forget About Me: Supporting Siblings of Children with Special Needs

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November 12, 2011 from 10am-2pm

open to everyone

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