I was thinking about my post for this week’s blog and a recurring thought kept coming to mind… The more I know the less I know! Recently, I have been branching out into the oral motor and feeding arena and I tell you for every article I read there are 100s more to consider. I did recently take an online training by Diane Bahr and I have been loving the information on Melanie Potock’s social media sites. One of her trainings and book are on my docket. I have also been delving into the oral motor abyss and trying out some new tools.
My interest was peaked after taking a training… MORE: Integrating the Mouth with Sensory and Postural Functions. During the training we were introduced to bubba straws and using the straw for a “bite and tug”. I purchased the MORE book at the training as well. A pack of bubba straws is 5-6 dollars. I figured I could buy a pack and see what happens.
I had one kiddo who attempted to mouth nonfood items but really never seemed sure of what to do with objects, let alone food. She allowed me to put a bubba straw in her mouth on her back molars. It was the first time I observed an up and down chew on anything. And, she loved them! We have moved onto the infamous yellow and red chewy tubes and her oral motor awareness has improved per my observation. Her school reported that her mouthing significantly decreased. They wanted to know what mom was doing differently at home. Pretty cool.
And, on a side note… I am a skeptic regarding different oral motor items I see in family’s homes. I have witnessed many laying around homes because the child is not interested or does not like it or the lack of education on my part on how the tools were meant to be used. If there is any research which supports increased jaw strength or improved speech production I have not found any. And if you have data, please share! But, in my opinion, when a child takes to something and it appears to be helping maybe it is not always about research.
And, here in this picture is my friend Gwen. Gwen will be 5 in January. I have been seeing her for private speech therapy for nearly 2 years now and she is a bright spot in my week! Her progress and her ability to learn new skills is wondeful to observe. She is imitating 2 and sometimes 3 word phrases. Gwen will attempt to imitate any sound that I model. In therapy we use visual cues, sound imitation, repetition, and pictures to encourage sound accuracy and word production. She learns signs quicker than me and is beginning to verbally label actions in pictures. Awesome! We recently took a gander at different “Chewy” necklaces for Gwen. She mouths many nonfood items and she eats most every type of food.
I am a fan of the SentioCHEWS at Kidcompanions. The quality and integrity behind the products are impeccable and the story behind the creation of the company is even better. Gwen’s family bought her “chewy” necklace as an alternative to licking nonfood items. We use the necklace in a behavioral manner. Meaning, when she mouths an item we verbalize “no mouth” and redirect to her necklace. In our most recent session she did not mouth any objects. Woo-Hoo!
Recently, we have also added some “flavor” to her food options. I call it “foods with a kick”. It makes sense to me that a person with low tone and low registration might experience this in the oral area too. A variety of strong and intense flavors were suggested at the MORE training (see above); flavors such as sour and spicy. My interpretation of this training’s suggestions and the power of taste for some of our kids was that their use may increase oral motor awareness, may improve sucking abilities, and provides sensory input.
Looking at Gwen’s food and the family’s taste buds we started adding a skosh of barbecue sauce to her eggs. Yes, we did! And, it worked! We increased sour options and added more flavor to most foods. Kara, Gwen’s mom, is always amazed by her appetite for these “high taste” foods. Per my observation, Gwen’s mouthing has decreased. I think part of what works for Gwen is having the option to use her “chewy” when redirecting her from a nonfood item. We need to give kids options after the “no”. This may help them learn a new pattern of behavior that is more acceptable.
Thank you as always for reading this week’s post. I am here to grow and learn with you and at the end of the day, help our kids reach their maximum potential! And, thank you Kara and Alex for allowing me to share your beautiful daughter with others. She is a delight to work with. Hopefully Gwen’s experiences can help another little one.
Next week we will come back to the Toys and Tips Series and Lorna of KidCompanions will be my first guest post in a couple of weeks! Looking forward to it! Come join me!