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Debbie's Blog - z-vibe

When Kids Think Feeding Utensils Are Food

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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 mouth she thinks the item is food and tries to open her mouth and touch her tongue with it. She does not yet understand commands such as close your lips. Any suggestions???


Usually when we put things to our mouths it’s to bite/chew/eat them, so it makes sense for some kids to think the Z-Vibe, a spoon, etc. might be food at first. 

You can try simplifying the command to just “don’t close” or “no close” or “no bite.” Even if kids can’t understand the words of certain commands yet, they can often sense your general tone. She'll eventually get the difference between what's edible and what's not.

That being said, my instinct is to suggest working WITH her interest instead of against it. If she's interested in the Z-Vibe - great!   Let her go for it. She may just need some time to explore it, learn about it, sense it, bite on the tip, etc. You can even dip the tip attachments in different purées / sticky foods (applesauce, yogurt, etc.).

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When Kids Think Feeding Utensils Are Food

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Once the newness wears off, you may be able to get in there and do more specific exercises/input.  You may have to wait until she’s older for certain exercises that require following directions.  But in the meantime, this oral stimulation/exploration will be good to help either normalize oral sensitivities that she may already have, OR help keep them at bay (children who have Down syndrome often develop oral sensitivities in my experience).

Letting her explore the Z-Vibe (under supervision) will also help increase oral awareness, which may be contributing to the tongue protrusion, among other things.

For lip closure specifically, try pairing it with the m sound. Say “mmmm” and see if she’ll imitate you. Touch the Z-Vibe to the lips for a tactile cue if needed, and turn it on to vibrate if more input via vibration is needed.

Last but not least, be sure to check out this article for more oral sensory strategies for children who have Down syndrome.

Debbie

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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 [...]

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Tongue Tip Elevation Exercises

Tongue tip elevation is the ability to lift the tip of one's tongue up to the alveolar ridge (the spot just behind the upper front teeth).  As a shorthand, we often call this location "on spot," as in, "get your tongue tip on spot!" Tongue tip elevation is an oral motor skill necessary to say certain speech [...]

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Lip Closure & Rounding Exercises

Lip closure (also known as lip seal) is the ability to close one's lips around a spoon, straw, cup, etc.  It's also important in order to say certain speech sounds, such as /p/b/m/, and it's a factor in preventing drooling. . . Recently I was working with a 9-year-old child who has Angelman syndrome.  The mother was asking if there was [...]

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Isolating Back of Tongue Elevation for K, G, and Y

For the K, G, and Y sounds, the back of the tongue elevates to the palate.  One of my favorite "tricks" to assist back of tongue elevation is to use the Z-Vibe with the Hard Spoon Tip. . . Place the bowl of the Spoon Tip on the tip of the tongue, and then have the child say [...]

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Food Pocketing in the Lips, Cheeks, and/or Gums

Question:  My four year old daughter pockets food in her lower gums.  Foods like pizza, chicken, egg whites, etc. (that do not melt like crackers or cookies).  She will simply let it stay in her gum pockets until she looks like a chipmunk and eventually we will have to remove it with our fingers.  She is not able [...]

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Assisting Lip Closure

Just like its namesake, lip closure (also known as lip seal) is the ability to close one's lips.  It's important for several different speech/feeding/oral motor skills: .  .  •  Being able to close one's lips around a straw, spoon, a piece of food, etc. •  Being able to pronounce the speech sounds /p/, /b/, and /m/ •  Being able to [...]

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Practicing a Rhythmic Chewing Pattern

Rhythmic chewing is one component of a mature chewing pattern.  There's a tempo to the way we chew - it's not sporadic;  we don't chew fast then slow then fast again.  We chew to a silent yet steady beat in order to properly break down food. . .  In the video below, however, this young man has a very sporadic chewing pattern.  In fact, [...]

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How to Decrease Tongue Protrusion & Encourage Retraction

Question: I have a 2 year old on my EI caseload, our program purchased a 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 [...]

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How to Develop a Rotary Chewing Pattern

I recently completed a Clinical Swallow Evaluation and today a Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study of a 10 yr old boy's swallow (both revealed a safe swallow that is within normal limits) and observed that his is not an age-appropriate chew pattern.  He engages in a Nonstereotypic Vertical Movement during mastication.  As a result, oral prep phase [...]

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