Ask a Therapist: The Child Refuses Tools

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on



My son was using TalkTools products since he was about 4 months old until he was 2 years old.


He is now 3 years and does not like them at all. Gets really mad when I try to use the chewy things, Z-Vibe or straws. He really does not want anything inside his mouth or to get his face massaged. 


Any recommendations?


Any other tools that are recommended for kids with Down Syndrome?



Hi Adriana,

These behavior can develop as children get older. In my class on Autism, I describe many factors that can contribute to behavioral challenges, sensory-motor challenges and moving forward in therapy.

First and foremost a predictable schedule with built in rewards is critical. Rewards need to be very frequent.

Secondly many kids need a sensory warm up. Consult with an OT/PT that specializes in sensory integration. Whole body movement, massage, music and sensory methods may be helpful prior to oral exercises.

Finally, without seeing your child myself I cannot recommend specifics; however at TalkTools not only do we support our work, but the work of Pam Marshalla, Debra Beckman and Diane Bahr, all have oral motor programs. I suspect the program may be too routine, so adding some massages, feeding programs and a more reinforcers may do the trick.

Robyn Merkel Walsh, MA, CCC SLP

Down Syndrome face massage pre-feeding program sensitivity sensory integration sensory intervention sensory motor sensory warmup

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  • Hi Mehren. It depends on the child. I often work with behaviorists who do a reinforcer assessment, or if one is not available I use what is called a “restricted access” ietm. This means you take a toy or food the child loves and ONLY use it in your speech therapy sessions. Some reinforcers I find popular are: squish balls, beanie babies , cheese doodles, fruir snacks, light up toys (like a spinner you find at a fair or amusement park), You Tube videoa, music, small cars with movable wheels, dum dum lollipops, chips, GAK, foam, bubbles, maracas, spin wheels and times movement breaks (trampoline, going for a walk etc.)

    Robyn Merkel-Walsh on
  • Thank you for the tips. I work with kids who refuse therapy tools frequently. Can you suggest some rewards that work well when doing therapy?

    Mehren Sondergaard on

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