Drooling – Getting to the Root of the Problem

I was looking at some of the tools and videos on your site.  I have a 9 year old daughter with low tone in her face and some periodic drooling.  I have taken her to various speech therapists in the area for help with this issue and most say to remind her to swallow.  Now she is 9 and still has this issue – reminding her does not seem to help.  The dentist said maybe strengthening her chewing and jaw muscles might help.  I think there might also be an issue with closing her lips from what I can see from the videos on your site.  I do not think most of the time she is aware that she is drooling as well.  Would the Z-Vibe, etc. help?  Any suggestions for her I would appreciate.  


If reminding her to swallow hasn’t working by now to stop the drooling, then it’s not going to work, most likely because that’s not the root of the problem.
.

What to do when saying "remember to swallow!" isn't working

.
Drooling can be caused by a few different things.  You mentioned that you don’t think she is aware that she’s drooling – this could very well be true.  Sometimes children have limited to no awareness in their mouths, which means they can’t feel the saliva.  And if they can’t feel it, they won’t know to swallow it.  There are a few strategies you can try to “wake up” the mouth so to speak (including using the Z-Vibe).  For more information on these strategies, click here.
.

Continue reading Drooling – Getting to the Root of the Problem

Does the Grabber Work on Different Skills than the Y-Chew?

Skill-wise, what would a child gain from using a Grabber vs. a Y-Chew vs. a Tri-Chew?  In other words, does the Tri-Chew works on different skills than the Y-Chew?  Does the Y-Chew work on different skills than the Grabber?  And so forth.


Great question.

The Tri-Chew and Baby Grabber are for mouthing, teething, and oral exploration for babies/toddlers up to about the age of 2.5 years old.  Oral exploration is a normal stage of mouth development – babies put things in their mouths to learn about their environment and to experience new textures and sensations.  The Tri-Chew and Baby Grabber provide a safe outlet for them to do so during this important stage.  Chewing/mouthing can also help exercise their mouth muscles in preparation for speaking and eating solid foods later on.

Continue reading Does the Grabber Work on Different Skills than the Y-Chew?

How to Decrease Tongue Protrusion & Encourage Retraction

Question: I have a 2 year old on my EI caseload, our program purchased the z-vibe kit for him. He is demonstrating some sensory aversion, drooling, and an open mouth posture with tongue protrusion. His tongue protrusion is beginning to affect production of his speech sounds. Are there any specific exercises I can have him do to decrease tongue protrusion?  Thank you so much for your help!


The issues you mentioned are likely all connected.  Let’s tackle the tongue protrusion first.  In order to help you visualize what he needs to work on:  hold your mouth open, bring your tongue forward between your teeth, and have the tongue tip/blade rest on your lower lip.  Now pull it back into your mouth with your tongue tip and front part of the tongue blade positioned on alveolar ridge (the gum area right behind the upper front teeth).  Commonly known as “SPOT,” this is where the tongue tip should be when we’re not eating, drinking, or speaking.  It’s also where the tongue tip sounds (t,n, d, s, z, l) are made.
.

There are many strategies you can use to get the tongue toned, tightened, and retracted so that it’s on SPOT.  The first thing I always recommend is to get him on straws, as these naturally encourage oral motor skills and decrease tongue protrusion.  If he doesn’t drink from a straw yet or if he has a weak suck, our Bear Bottle Straw Cup makes the transition easier.
.

Continue reading How to Decrease Tongue Protrusion & Encourage Retraction

Oral Motor Exercises to Improve Jaw Stability

This young man in the video above has a jaw slide, meaning that his jaw shifts either to the left or to the right when he talks.  Since the tongue is connected to the jaw, the tongue follows the jaw, also shifting to the left or right.  Why is this a problem?  Speech sounds are properly articulated when the jaw and tongue are midline and symmetrical.  If the jaw and tongue shift to the side during speech, certain sounds may seem slushy and unclear.  So in order to clearly articulate sounds, we’ll need to stabilize his jaw at center.  To work on jaw stability:
.
.
Jaw stability oral motor exercises

.
1.  
Put the extension of the Grabber (or Y-Chew or Probe) in between the molars, as shown in the pictures above.  Ask the child to bite down and hold for a count of 10.  Repeat a total of 3 times on each side.  If necessary, provide support to the chin with your free hand.
.

Bilateral jaw stability with the Grabber

.
2.  
As you try this exercise, check to make sure that the space between the upper front teeth is lining up with the space between the lower front teeth.  If it’s not, switch to using the loop of the Grabber instead, and place it in the front of the mouth (see the picture above).  This position will force the child to bite on both sides at the same side so the jaw can’t shift and will instead stay centrally aligned.
.

Jaw stability with the Grabber placed laterally

.
3.  
You can also do this with the extension of the Grabber (or Y-Chew) placed laterally in front of the mouth (as shown above).
.

4.  Finally, another way to stabilize the jaw is to use two Grabbers (or Y-Chews or Probes) simultaneously – one of either side of the mouth in between the molars.  This is essentially step 1, only with a tool on both sides of the mouth.
.

As always, keep in mind that you may have to start with a shorter count, and work up to 10.  If you only get a couple counts, that’s okay!  Make a note of the progress, and try to do more in the next practice session.
.

A note on counting: you’ll notice that I don’t always have the same beat to my counts in the video.  If I sense that the child is losing interest, I mix things up to refocus their attention.  You can change the beat, count faster or slower, say it with a deep voice or a high voice or anything in between, count backwards, use funny voices, and so forth.  Just have fun :)
.

Debbie

Debra C. Lowsky, MS, CCC-SLP
.

Improving Jaw Strength & Stability

Jaw Strength & Stability Exercises

.

The Y-Chew is an excellent tool to develop oral tone, practice biting and chewing skills, work on oral motor exercises, and improve jaw strength and stability.  The long extensions reach all the way to the back molar area to really exercise the jaw, and two of the extensions have a textured surface for added tactile input.  Check out the therapy videos below for some jaw exercises using the Y-Chew:
.
.

.
Bite and hold the Y-Chew for 10 second increments.  Repeat several times on both sides.  This oral motor exercise strengthens the jaw so that it doesn’t move from side to side or open too far.   It also works on jaw stability and a sustained bite by keeping the jaw from sliding from side to side.
.
.

Continue reading Improving Jaw Strength & Stability