Innovating sensory tools from our family to yours since 2000. All made in the USA!

$5 shipping on all US orders. Free shipping on US orders $99 or more*

Debbie's Blog

Teaching Kids the Concept of Sucking (Not Blowing) through a Straw to Drink


Question:  Good afternoon!  I'm a speech therapist working on straw drinking with a child who has Autism. We've done the first 3 steps of your How to Teach Straw Drinking blog post, but cannot proceed to the 4th because the child does not know what it means in general to take a sip.  I cannot think of anything else to do.  He closes the lips around the straw but doesn't drink.  Instead, he blows from the straw in order to make bubbles in the glass.  Any ideas?



Try doing the first part of step 4 (removing your fingertip and allowing the liquid to flow into his mouth).  Once he sees (feels) that liquid comes out of the straw, that may help establish the concept. 

You may also need to do other sucking activities, such as:

•   Let him watch you suck through a straw with exaggerated movements.  

•   Have him pinch his nose and breath in.  Let him know that’s how you suck.

•   Tear pieces of paper and place them on the table.  Use the straw to suck up the piece of paper and move it to another spot. (The pieces of paper should be larger than the diameter of the straw diameter so that they're not sucked up through the straw.)

•   Picture symbols might help establish the concept as well (a picture of a vacuum cleaner sucking for example). 

Last but not least, if none of the above works, a one-way straw might help do the trick. These straws have a valve built into the bottom of the straw. The valve keeps liquid at the top of the straw - it doesn't flow back down into the cup.  Since liquid stays at the top of the straw, he'll need to suck just a little bit to be "rewarded" with liquid (as opposed to having to suck it up the full length of the straw).  

Because the valve is one-way:  things can go up but not down.  So liquid doesn't fall back down into the cup, and you can't blow through it either, only suck.  So if he uses this straw, he won't be able to blow bubbles with it. 

These straws can be used on their own, or they're also included with this Sip-Tip.  If used with the Sip-Tip, you can pump the lid to prime the straw / “help” fluid up the straw and into the child’s mouth to demonstrate what's supposed to happen.

I hope some of this is helpful!  



Oral Motor Staples for Babies Who Have Down Syndrome

Hello!  About 1 week ago my husband and I got a confirmed diagnosis of Down syndrome for our upcoming baby girl.  I want to help my little flower as much as possible and start as soon as possible!  What tools are recommended for starting at an early age?  We are very excited to help our [...]

Read More »

Alternatives for Nail Biting

Question: My five-year-old has recently started biting his fingernails. I came across your site when trying to find a way to switch him away from that habit. I also bite my nails so I'd be interested in something for me too. Do you have any recommended products we should try?  .. We do! [...]

Read More »

Can't Eat by Mouth, but Still Want/Need to Chew?

I’m a therapist searching for a product for an older woman with intellectual disabilities. She loves food and drink, but it’s not an option to drink and eat all day.  So we’re looking for a safe way to her to chew without actually eating. I was thinking about your grabbers? What do you [...]

Read More »

When Kids Think Feeding Utensils Are Food

Question: I work with a child who has Down Syndrome. She is 16 months old. She presents with open mouth posture and tongue thrusting not during feeding. Mom purchased a Z-vibe and I saw your article on using the Z-vibe to promote lip closure. Only problem is....anytime we go near her [...]

Read More »

Oral Motor Straw Workout

Below are directions for a Straw / Lip Blok program I've used with many of my kids over the years. I usually do this in conjunction with tongue thrust therapy when their swallowing pattern needs to be changed.  And it also helps work on oral tone and tongue retraction. . . What You'll Need: 1. Krazy Straws. [...]

Read More »

Chewelry for Girls

All of our chews are used by both boys and girls.  They come in a  variety of shapes and colors for lots of different interests.  But for anyone looking for traditionally "girly girl" designs, check out: ARK's Diamond Chew Necklace - As they say - diamonds are a girl's best friend! . . ARK's Krypto-Bite Chewable Gem Necklace - a beautiful [...]

Read More »

Frequency of Speech Therapy Sessions

Question:  Do all children with speech problems have to attend regular speech therapy?Not necessarily.  Sometimes you can place mild cases on consultation to monitor their development and progress. For example, I recently saw a child with an L distortion in a private school. She was four years old, and I knew the parents would be very [...]

Read More »

Feeding Problems - When It's Psychological

Question:  I've read your Food Refusal article, that feeding problems are usually related to oral motor or sensory problems.  But can it be psychological?  I’ve searched the internet and can find very little practical advice about addressing the fear of solid foods for an infant/toddler. Our son (3 and 1/2 now) is still eating pureed food [...]

Read More »

Feeding Therapy - Moving Beyond Food Prep

Question: I am working with a 7 year old girl in feeding therapy who is refusing to open her lips and just purses. She has been involved heavily in food preparation which she enjoys foing and shows great participation.  However when it comes to the taste testing part she refuses all foods. She does [...]

Read More »