Question: I am working with a 2-year-old with CP. I cannot get him to take consecutive bites of food. He takes one bite and lets it sit in his mouth until it dissolves, then swallows it. I have to prompt him to open his mouth and take another bite. I am using the Z-Vibe on sides of mouth, he will bite one time, then I have to prompt him to open mouth. Any ideas? Thanks!
He will most likely eventually take a second bite and begin chewing on his own. Sometimes children do not immediately progress to that second bite, third bite, and so on. That being said, there are a couple of things you can try to help him along:
• Place the food to the side of his mouth in between the molar area. While holding the food there, direct the jaw up and down with your other hand, using your thumb on the chin and pointer finger under the chin. Continue to verbally prompt him to bite/chew/open.
• My first instinct, however, is to increase his mouthing experience by providing him with different chew tools, such as ARK's Y-Chews, Baby Grabber, Animal Tips, and/or with the Z-Vibe you already have. You can also dip these tools in food and place them in between the molars for him to practice chewing.
• Can he lateralize his tongue (move it from side to side for food manipulation)? Children who do not have this skill will not progress to chewing because they may instinctively know they cannot orally manage the food without that skill. The videos below show some options for working on tongue lateralization with the Probe and the oro-Navigator, and you'll definitely want to check out this article on tongue lateralization, too.
• In order to get him to open his mouth, you can also try singing vowel sounds that require the jaw to open wide, such as 'ah.' Sing a note, close the mouth/lips, sing another note, and so forth. I have also used a pen light or flashlight to get children to open their mouths since they do this at the doctor's office. Make a game of it and have him shine the light for you to open and close your mouth, too. This is also good for jaw control and stability.
All my best,
Debra C. Lowsky, MS, CCC-SLP