On the Horizons – 3/14/12

Welcome to “On the Horizon”

Issue 179: Perspectives on Behavior

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: Postcard from New York City
  • Feature Article:
    Perspectives on Behavior
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events: Sibshop
  • Recommended Resources

Hi Everyone!

We had an absolutely beautiful, sunny, warm weekend here in West Michigan! It was great to get outside with the kids to enjoy activities we haven’t been able to do since the cold weather started. Gives us hope that spring is around the corner! This week I’m traveling to New York City to give some seminars for professionals. One of my 10-year-old clients has requested a postcard of the Empire State Building, so I’ll be bringing back one of those for sure. I’m looking forward to meeting many new people on this whirlwind three-day trip!

This week my feature article spotlights the topic of behavior. While there are many perspectives we can take on behavior, some are more helpful than others. I’ve included some questions you can ask yourself when trying to figure out what a child’s behavior means. After you’ve read the article, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts on this important topic!

For those of you in Indiana, check out the events calendar to the right to see dates I’ll be speaking there in April. I’ll also be in Wisconsin, Chicago, and Orlando in the coming months. I love to have people from our Horizons community in the audience!

Make it a fantastic week!

Looking to the horizon,


Perspectives on Behavior

By Nicole Beurkens, PhD

All children exhibit less-than-desirable behaviors at one time or another. Sometimes children exhibit many of these behaviors throughout the day, especially in the case of children with neurodevelopmental disorders. The behaviors can take over everyone’s lives and become the focus of our interactions with these children. Too often we blame the child, when what we need to do is analyze what the child’s behavior is telling us and how we can best support his or her functioning. This involves looking beyond what is on the surface to see what physical and emotional needs lie beneath.

There are many labels and phrases that get thrown around to describe children who exhibit problematic behavior. They might be called “behavior problems,” “naughty,” “oppositional,” or “defiant.” People might say they are acting up “on purpose” to make me angry or to “get what s/he wants.” Others might say, “he just doesn’t want to do what he’s supposed to do” or “she just doesn’t like me.”  What’s interesting about all of these labels and phrases is that they imply that the problem lies exclusively with the child, and that the purpose or intent behind the behavior is to intentionally create a problem for someone else.

Click here to read the rest of this article…


I have an 8-year-old daughter who has struggled with communication, behavior, and social skills since she was a toddler. She has been diagnosed with encopresis and we have been to see more specialists than I can count at this point. School doesn’t seem to feel there are significant issues, but she is having increasingly explosive behaviors at home on a regular basis. I’m getting conflicting messages about what is going on with her, and I’m frustrated because no one is giving a clear answer as to a diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Help!

-Amy in Jackson, MI


Hi Amy,

I can certainly understand your frustration! Far too often professionals act in isolation and only look at their specific area of expertise, instead of looking at the big picture of what is going on with a child. It is very important to understand all of a child’s strengths and challenges, and determine the approaches and treatments that will best support the child’s development. It sounds like you haven’t had the opportunity to have a professional, or team of professionals, take a comprehensive look at your daughter in order to determine the underlying causes of her challenges and provide you with strategies to support her and your family as a whole. My recommendation is that you find a professional (or group of professionals) who can accomplish that for you.

Keep in mind that you have a right to let professionals know what you need at the start of an evaluation, and I’d encourage you to be very clear that you expect to leave the process knowing the steps you can take to help your daughter. When you are referred to someone for an evaluation or consultation of any kind, be proactive and ask questions about what the goal of the appointment is and what you can expect to leave with. This may prevent you from wasting time and money seeing even more clinicians who cannot meet your needs. If you’d like to discuss having an evaluation with our team at Horizons, please give our office a call so we can talk with you about the process and what you can expect.

Good Luck,


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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

March 14, 2012

Tarrytown, NY

March 15, 2012

Plainview, NY

March 16, 2012

Manhattan, NY

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 >>