On the Horizon: 4/11/12

Welcome to “On the Horizon”

Issue 182: Go With Your Gut: Five Tips for Parents Making School-Related Decisions

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 Camps 2012
  • Feature Article:
    Go With Your Gut: Five Tips for Parents Making School-Related Decisions
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events: Sibshop
  • Recommended Resources

Hi Everyone!

Our team is back in the office this week after taking some time off for Spring Break last week. Some of us stayed in town, while others travelled with our families. It was good to have a little time to relax and catch our breath as we get ready to head into the busy spring and summer months around here!

Speaking of summer, our Summer Camps 2012 information is up on the website here. Please note that we are using a new scheduling system, and the format of some programs has changed. Don’t hesitate to contact our office if you have questions or need assistance with registering. There will be very few openings for families who are not currently receiving services at our clinic, so let us know right away if you would like your child to attend any of the programs this summer.

This week’s feature article is written with parents in mind, specifically parents who “think outside the box” in regards to their child’s schooling. It may not resonate with everyone, but these are some of the things my colleagues and I find ourselves talking about frequently with parents at our clinic in regards to school-related decisions. This article has generated some interesting comments in the past, so feel free to leave yours in the comments section at the end of the article.

Have a fantastic rest of the week!

Looking to the horizon,


Go With Your Gut: Five Tips for Parents Making School-Related Decisions

By Nicole Beurkens, PhD

School-related decisions seem to be an ever-present issue for all families, but especially for families with a child with unique learning needs. Here are some tips I find myself frequently providing parents in regards to their child’s education:

  • Do not buy into the idea that there is a certain place out there that is a perfect fit and if you just keep searching long enough you will find it. No setting is perfect and there will be flaws and problems that crop up wherever you go. What is important is finding the right people who are willing to customize things to work for the best interest of each child – people who will bring you as parents in as part of the team and will work with you to ensure progress.
  • Don’t hem and haw over the next 15 years of your child’s school career when you only need to be making a decision about what to do for right now. I have met with too many parents who are paralyzed at the thought of pursuing something different from the status quo because they wonder what the ramifications will be 10 years down the road. Schools make decisions about placement and services one year at a time based on the current needs of the child and parents should do the same. You may feel that something is important for your child right now, and feel completely different about it a year from now. None of us can predict the future with certainty – no matter how hard we try! What is important is making the right decision for this point in time, and re-evaluating as you go along.

Click here to read the rest of this article…


As a special education team leader in an elementary school, I’ve been taking to heart some of the things you’ve written about regarding parent-school partnerships. I’m looking to make our school district less stressful and frustrating for families whose children struggle in school. What are some of the biggest complaints that you receive from families in regards to their interactions with schools? I’m curious what you hear from parents so we can try to avoid making the same mistakes.

Thank you,

Bridgett in Brooklyn, NY


Hi Bridgett,

First of all, thank you for reading our newsletter and I’m glad you are benefitting from some of the ideas we share in it. I’d also like to praise you for looking at how you can change things in your school to better meet the needs of parents and families! Off the top of my head, here are some of the biggest “complaints” our team hears from parents in regards to interactions with school staff members:

  1. Every year is like starting over. We sit down for conferences and hear the same thing we did the year before, and then the teachers begin to look at what supports should be put in place. Why can’t there be better communication between the teachers each year so we are prepared to have the supports in place right from the beginning?
  2. I feel like I’m constantly being told/reminded that my child struggles in a specific area (or every area), and it’s very difficult. I am very aware of my child’s struggles and don’t need to be constantly reminded. I just want teachers/school staff members to tell me how they are helping my child improve. Some reminders of the things my child is good at wouldn’t hurt every now and then, either!
  3. It’s very frustrating when school staff members constantly ask us what they should do about our child’s struggles. While I appreciate being included in the discussion and having the opportunity to provide ideas, often I am just as stumped as you are about what to do. We deal with so much at home as parents of a special needs child, and it’s hard for us to know all the ins and outs of how things work at school. Once in a while we’d love to have something that tells us how they are supporting our child, and maybe even give us ideas of what we can be doing at home to make things easier for our child and family.

I hope this helps you think about some things that might make your programs even better for the children and families you serve. Thanks for keeping the needs of parents and families in mind!

Best Wishes,


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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.

May 12th – 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:

Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Practical Strategies to Improve Processing

April 18, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana

April 19, 2012 in Fort Wayne, Indiana

April 20, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana

Autism Society of Wisconsin Annual Conference

May 3-5, 2012

Green Bay, Wisconsin

AutismOne/Generation Rescue Conference 2012

May 23-27, 2012

Chicago, Illinois

MAGIC Foundation Annual Convention

July 19-22, 2012

Chicago, Illinois

American Psychological Association Annual Convention

August 2-5, 2012

Orlando, Florida



Autism Transformation for Educators Audio Program

From Frustrated and Overwhelmed to Overwhelming Success: 10 Concepts That Will Transform the Way You Understand and Teach Students with Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders

More Information >>