On the Horizon – 01/09/13

Welcome to "On the Horizon"

Issue 209: What the Kaizen Principle Means For Your Child, Your Family, and You

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
  • Feature Article: What the Kaizen Principle Means For Your Child, Your Family, and You
  • Ask the Horizons Team
  • Upcoming Events
  • Recommended Resources

Hi Everyone!

Happy New Year! Our team is back to work after taking some time off over the holidays. I hope that you and your families were able to enjoy some time together over the holidays as well! With the New Year comes some new projects. The biggest one of all is the major construction project that began this week at the clinic. We are putting additions on two sides of the building to create more space for our wonderful client families. While there will definitely be some inconveniences for all of us over the next few months, the end result will be more than worth it. We will post some pictures on our Facebook page as we go along for those of you who want to follow the progress.

With the arrival of 2013, how many of us have set goals, resolutions, etc. for the coming year? I find the "kaizen principle" helpful when thinking about changes I want to make, so my new article this week shares some ways that parents and professionals can apply this principle to create meaningful change. I hope you enjoy it!

Make it a great week!

Looking to the horizon,

What the Kaizen Principle Means For Your Child, Your Family, and You

By Nicole Beurkens, PhD

With the dawn of a new calendar year comes the urge to make big changes in our lives. There is something about starting a fresh calendar with the entire year ahead that gets us thinking about all the things we might do over the next 12 months. If we are honest with ourselves most of the things we aspire to change are tough, and many of us fail before we really even get started. While it can seem like a good idea to set big sweeping goals, it is also overwhelming and can be a recipe for staying stagnant and making no changes at all.

A few years ago a good friend of mine told me about the "kaizen principle," and I think it has profound implications for how we view our ability to change. The word "kaizen" originated in Japan and simply means "improvement". Over the years various people have expanded it’s meaning, and today the principle of kaizen includes the idea of "continuous change or improvement". More specifically, it means that small shifts in what we are currently doing can have a big impact over time. Just a 5-10 degree shift in our current behaviors can propel us toward big change in the long run.

Click here to read the rest of this article…


My son cannot touch his top lip with his tongue, so he can’t clear food from his lips.  Is there anything I can do to help him with this?

-Jim in Michigan


Dear Jim,

Your son is not alone.  I treat several children at the center who struggle with the same difficulty.  

There may be a few different reasons why your son is experiencing difficulty elevating his tongue.  This can be caused by a lack of sensory awareness – not knowing where your tongue is in space; by a motor planning issues – not being able to get the right message from the brain to the tongue; or due to weak tongue muscles.  Regardless, there are some simple activities you can begin doing at home that can improve tongue strength and mobility.

1) Improve sensation by rubbing the tip of the tongue and then the upper lip with a dry washcloth or another textured item to call awareness to the area you want the tongue to touch.

2) Hold a tongue depressor, popsicle stick, straw, etc. on your child’s upper lip and have him try to touch it with his tongue. Doing this in front of a mirror can help your child see where his tongue needs to go.  Continue to move the stick higher as your child is able to reach it.

3) Have your child try capturing cheerios off of a stir stick with his tongue. Hold the stir stick just above his top lip and have him try to reach the cheerio.  Continue holding the cheerio higher and higher.

If your son uses his lower jaw to help his tongue elevate, be sure to hold his jaw stable so that his tongue is doing the work.  

Good Luck and Have Fun!

Take care,
Erin Roon, MA CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist

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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

February 6, 2013 in Bridgeport, CT

February 7, 2013 in Cromwell, CT

February 8, 2013 in Warwick, RI


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.

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