Tagged "gag reflex"

Ask A Therapist: Chewy Tubes for a one-year-old

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on



I am working with a little boy who is about a year old, developmentally (orally) is around 8-9 months. I gave the family the yellow chewy tube to practice biting/chewing, in addition to desensitizing gag reflex--instructing them to use with close adult supervision. The caregiver reports to me that his pediatrician told her not to give him the chewy tube as it is "too advanced for him". My question: is there a particular age range for these chewy tubes? Is there any information I can provide this doctor to support the use of chewy tubes in the treatment of feeding for speech therapy?


Thank you so much!




Hi Sarah,

I am sorry the child's pediatrician is not as accepting of the chewy tubes.  I have used the chewy tubes with much younger children so I am not sure why the pediatrician is opposed to it.  It might be worth calling and discussing with him.  Maybe giving him the website, blog link, and more information about it would be helpful.  

The only other chewy tube that you could try that would be easier is the red chewy tube.

Please let me know if you have anything else come up or have any other questions. We are always happy to help.



Elizabeth Smithson, MSP, CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist who has over 10 years of professional experience working with infants, children, adolescents and adults. She earned her Master of Speech Pathology at the University of South Carolina. Liz is also a Level 5 TalkTools® Trained Therapist. She has received specialized training in Oral Placement Therapy, Speech, Feeding, Apraxia, Sensory Processing Disorders, and PROMPT©. Liz works with clients with a wide range of disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy. She works through her own private practice Elizabeth Smithson Therapy, LLC in the home setting and in the TalkTools® office in Charleston, SC.

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Ask a Therapist: Strong Gag Reflex

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on



I am speech pathologist from Finland, took your class about Feeding Therapy: a sensory-motor approach at Helsinki last May. I am sending you an e-mail, because I met a new client shortly after the class and this case really bothers me. I have asked permission from parents, to send this e-mail and pictures/short video when he's eating. So, this boy is 5 years old, he has had feeding issues since he was baby. Nowadays he eats almost anything but no meat. It seems like he doesn't have enough strength at his muscles to bite. When he eats, he puts lots of food into his mouth, only couple of bites and then he swallows. Looks like he's gagging when eating. He uses only couple of words, can't elevate his tongue without gagging. And when pronouncing for example sound /a/, he gags and tongue goes into "cup." He can't reach his upper alveoli with his tongue. The situation is horrible, I have only met him couple of times and it seems like the posterior tongue-tip would be one problem, maybe also tissue around it. I am writing a paper about him because he's going to see a doctor in September. But if it's possible, I would like to get another opinion - yours :-) Thank you so much, if you have time to answer me.




Mrs. R

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Hello R,

You are absolutely correct. It looks like he has a type III posterior tongue tie. He probably cannot contract the lateral borders of his tongue. Chewing meat requires much more than just jaw strength, it requires being able to use the lateral borders of the tongue and cheeks together to stabilize the food. That is probably the problem when he is chewing meat. He cannot collect the bolus, and cannot stabilize the bolus on the molar ridge for mastication. He needs to be referred to an otolaryngologist (ENT) or an oral surgeon who understands the correlation between structure and function. Once his frenulum is released you may need to do the lingual exercises for function, BUT you will be able to facilitate the movements he needs for handling more difficult textures. GOOD OBSERVATION!!!!!!

Lori Overland, MS, CCC-SLP, C/NDT

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