On the Horizon – 5/2/12

Welcome to “On the Horizon”

Issue 184: Springtime Planning for Transitions

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: Anticipating the Slower Pace of Summer
  • Feature Article:
    Springtime Planning for Transitions
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events: Sibshop
  • Recommended Resources

Hi Everyone!

May is upon us and I hope it’s starting off well for you! This is traditionally a very busy time of year with school and other activities winding down. My husband and I were looking at the calendar and realizing that the next few weeks will be much busier than usual with concerts, school programs, baseball games, etc. We are eagerly anticipating the slower pace of summer!

Those of you who are in Wisconsin, I’d love to connect with you at the Autism Society of Wisconsin conference at the end of this week. If you’re planning to attend, please stop and say hello. I’ll be doing the closing keynote on Saturday afternoon and would love to see you! Later on this month our team will be at AutismOne in Chicago, so definitely stop by our booth to say hello if you plan to attend that event.

Courtney’s featured article this week is all about planning for school transitions. Definitely check out the ideas she presents and leave a comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject.

Have a fabulous week!

Looking to the horizon,

Springtime Planning for Transitions

By Courtney Kowalczyk, M.Ed.

The sun is beginning to shine, and the fresh smells of spring are upon us. This time of year is always a favorite of mine, whether I am working with clients or walking through the park with my sons. One thing is for sure, this time of year is always busy in school systems. Special educators, parents, and support staff alike generally meet together for an annual Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for the coming school year. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, IEPs are usually completed in the spring for students receiving special education services. When preparing for IEPs, it is essential for parents and educators alike to think about the conclusion of the current school year and the beginning of the next, and how they will support the child during this time.

Click here to read the rest of this article…


I’ve heard you speak about different levels of prompts and have a question about that. If a child isn’t attending, is it best to use a non-verbal prompt to get them to re-engage?

-Gary in Indiana


Hi Gary,

This is an important question and I appreciate you asking it. When a child is not attending, often the adult’s first response is to somehow prompt the child to attend to the task at hand. Prompting can take many different forms, and it is important to use prompts that help facilitate the child’s development of independent attention shifting. Typically adults use direct verbal prompts first – saying the child’s name, stating what they need to do, repeating the instructions, etc. While this can be effective, it also requires no work on the child’s part to recognize where his attention should be and shift appropriately.

It is my preference that adults start by using less direct prompts to help a child recognize where his attention needs to be. There are a variety of indirect prompts that can be used, and I detail those in my seminars and in the Learning as We Grow book. Making a statement such as, “I’m looking at this book” provide a cue as to the most important thing happening at that moment, and allow the child to use that information to redirect his attention. You asked about nonverbal prompts, and those can also be very effective. Moving the materials closer to the child, pointing to the task, and moving your own body closer to the child are all effective nonverbal prompts that provide information about where he should be attending but do not directly tell the child what to do. The key is to provide the child with some information about where his attention should be, without directly telling him where to look or what to do. This allows for the development of awareness and independent attention shifting that is critical for success in life.

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 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


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.

More Information >>