Ask a Therapist: Feeding after Attending TalkTools’ Feeding Course

Hi Lori,

I attended your Feeding Therapy: Sensory Motor Approach 2 day course.  It was terrific and I’ve been implementing a lot of what I learned.  I’ve seen some progress already.  One of my students did such a great job drinking from a straw the other day! What an improvement from the liquid being squeezed into her mouth.  Now we have to work on transitioning to the classroom. ****Excellent! I always love to hear that!!!!****   Other students have been slower going and that’s one of my questions. 

One particular student is 14 years old.  She basically has a soft diet mostly consisting of sweet puddings and cakes with some fruits.  She manages those foods though she is definitely giving the OT trouble with self feeding and the behaviorist has suggested pairing eating with a pleasurable activity which is the IPAD.  So while she’s on the IPAD she will usually feed herself. 

She has a protruded jaw, her upper lip is pulled in, her tongue is bunchy and her cheeks are “puffy”.  Her teeth are a bit crooked and somewhat misplaced.  I’ve seen some nice movement and closure of the lips.  She also accepts the tongue massage.  I’ve tried the chewy tube and she will tolerate it in her mouth, but I haven’t seen any movement towards a bite.  That’s where I’m not sure what to do?  I model.  We have a mirror; I support her jaw but no change.  She bites on her shirt and a bib that she wears into school.  Any suggestions on how to move forward?  

****Well…..if you are working on straw drinking you really need to get cheek contraction, lip rounding and tongue retraction. You may have to focus on  a pre-feeding program before you introduce the honey bear. From your description of her puffy cheeks, upper lip pulled in, tongue bunchy…. she does not have the skills to successfully straw drink. THEN…. work corner to corner with the honey bear…one sip/one swallow !****

I have feeding objectives on many of my students IEPs.  I usually write the criteria as a level of participation because I’m not sure how else to measure the data for the IEP and don’t want to get myself stuck.  I’m also trying to track progress so I’ve developed a data sheet listing the exercises and how many times they have been done.  It seems ok, but I feel there must be a better way.  Do you have any suggestions regarding that?

****I work in many schools and it is amazing how different districts require tracking of progress. Some are so general….they are meaningless, and some get down to how many sips with lip rounding, cheek contraction and tongue retraction. SOOOO….I write my plans to develop the skill and let the schools figure out how they need to record data, and track progress. Sorry I can’t be more helpful on that one…****

Wow, I guess I saved up a bunch of stuff.  I hope it is all clear.  I’ve been lucky to get to stay with my current caseload and I see oral motor and feeding therapy as a big part of our treatment  Any suggestions if you are able would be great.  I’d love to continue to learn more as I find this particular area to be really interesting and so important.  ****Good for you! It sounds like you have already done some nice work…and seen the progress your students are capable of making. ****

I look forward to hearing from you!  Have a great day. B

****Thanks again for the great questions!

Lori Overland****

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