On the Horizon: 10/31/12

Welcome to "On the Horizon"

Issue 203: Choosing Optimism

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: Send thoughts to our East Coast readers
  • Feature Article: Choosing Optimism
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events
  • Recommended Resources

Hi Everyone!

It’s a blustery cold day here in West Michigan, but nothing compared to what our friends on the East Coast are experiencing right now. I hope all of our readers in the path of this storm are staying safe amidst all of the damage and ongoing horrible weather. We are thinking of you all and hoping things can get back to normal quickly.

The feature article this week is a new one from me about optimism. I find that this is an essential ingredient for success when working with families, and it can be difficult to achieve at times. I hope it provides some inspiration to those of you who need to hear it today. If you feel like you could use a daily dose of inspiration on your parenting journey, you may want to check out our featured resource this week – Parent Success Cards. These cards will provide you with a thought or idea to help you shift from negative to positive thinking in your interactions with your children.

The Q&A below covers the important topic of writing IEP goals and objectives, and provides a helpful resource for those of you who want to improve in this area. 

Wishing you a wonderful week!

Looking to the horizon,

Choosing Optimism

By Nicole Beurkens, PhD

Positive and negative. Hope and despair. Optimism and Pessimism.  I don’t have to look far on most days to see the stark contrast that exists between these two very different sides of the same coin. In my work with families of children with special needs the realities of challenges are all too real, and the potential for families to fall into negative thinking all too common. Yet even in the most challenging of circumstances optimism can grow and flourish. I see it daily in families faced with incredible obstacles.

There are few places where optimism shines more brightly than in the heart and eyes of a parent. Even before we have children we spend time dreaming about who they will be, what they will become, and what our lives will be like together. We create rosy images in our minds of how we will be as parents and who we will help our children become. When a baby is born into the world, hope and optimism abounds. A new life is the ultimate clean slate; holding endless potential and hope. Parents beam while imagining what is on the horizon for this new little life, and for theirs together.

Click here to read the rest of this article…


I am a special education teacher working with students in grades 3-6. One of our areas for school improvement this year is writing more specific IEPs, including tightening up our goals and objectives. I have to say that this is something I didn’t get a lot of instruction in when I was in college, and I’m frustrated with how to write specific measurable goals and objectives for my students with a wide variety of needs. Our improvement team is especially struggling with goals/objectives in the areas of social and emotional skills. Do you have any suggestions or resources we could use to help us in this area?

Thanks –
Karen in New Jersey


Thanks for being brave enough to ask this question! Many school professionals feel like this is an area of weakness for them, but most don’t take the time to ask questions and get better at it. You are correct that writing specific, measurable, meaningful goals and objectives is really important. I often see IEPs where the same broad generic goals are written year after year, and no one working with the student can say for sure whether they are achieved or not. One of my favorite resources to help in this area is the book The IEP From A to Z: How to Create Meaningful and Measurable Goals and Objectives by Dianne Twachtman-Cullen and Jennifer Twachtman-Bassett. I have used this book in graduate level education courses I have taught, and students find it to be an excellent resource. The book covers general principles of writing appropriate goals and objectives, and then provide specific examples across a variety of skills areas (including social goals). I think you and your team will find this very helpful as you tackle this area together over the course of the year.


Follow Us:

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

November 14, 2012 in Winchester, Virginia

November 15, 2012 in Charlottesville Virginia

November 16, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia

February 6, 2013 in Bridgeport, CT

February 7, 2013 in Cromwell, CT

February 8, 2013 in Warwick, RI


Parent Success Cards

Discover a Daily Dose of Inspiration and Encouragement to Stay Focused on What’s Truly Important.

More Information >>