Tagged "Pre-feeding exercises"

Ask A Therapist: The right duration of vibration

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on



I have a question about using vibration (as with the Z-Vibe or Vibrator & Toothettes). I understand that using vibration can be used to "wake up" the sensory system, and I believe I’ve heard that it can have a temporarily positive effect on low muscle tone. I’ve read that vibration should be used in short durations, but I was wondering if you had any guidelines for the maximum or minimum duration of vibration? I’m thinking especially in a case of low muscle tone as in children with Down syndrome.


Thank you very much!




Hi Jennifer,

My name is Lori Overland and I teach the two day sensory-motor feeding class for TalkTools. Your email was forwarded to me, and it is an excellent question.

You cannot separate out the sensory and motor systems. Sensory feedback always impacts movement and movement provides feedback. It is important to make sure you have a specific motor goal (i.e.: in the case of spoon feeding, perhaps the goal is lip closure). Vibration facilitates a contraction of the muscle, so it may be used in conjunction with a tool to facilitate upper lip mobility for spoon feeding. If you leave vibration on a muscle for too long, the muscle relaxes. If you are using my pre-feeding exercises, I recommend  4-5 repetitions (maybe a little more or less depending on my client's sensory system) of an exercise. If you think about your motor goal and map sensory on to motor, you will not have to be concerned about using too much vibration. Feel free to email me if you have a follow up question.



Lori Overland, MS, CCC-SLP is a speech and language pathologist with more than 35 years of professional experience. Lori specializes in dealing with the unique needs of infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers and school-aged children with oral sensory-motor, feeding and oral placement/speech disorders. She has received an award from the Connecticut Down Syndrome Association for her work within this population. Lori consults with children from all over the world, providing evaluations, re-evaluations, program plans and week-long therapy programs. Lori also provides consults to local school districts and Birth-to-Three organizations. Her goal in addressing feeding and speech challenges is to improve the quality of life for both the children she serves and their families. In addition to her private practice, Alphabet Soup, Lori is a member of the TalkTools® speakers bureau. Lori has lectured on sensory-motor feeding disorders across the United States and internationally. Her classes, "Feeding Therapy: A Sensory-Motor Approach" and "Developing Oral-Motor Feeding Skills in the Down Syndrome Population" are approved for ASHA and AOTA CEUs. Lori is the co-author of A Sensory Motor Approach to Feeding. She holds degrees from Horfstra University and Adelphi University and has her neurodevelopmental certification.

Meet her!

- Oct. 14-15, 2016 for the workshop Feeding Therapy: A Sensory-Motor Approach in Cape Giraudoux, MO

- Oct. 29-30, 2016 for the workshop Feeding Therapy: A Sensory-Motor Approach in Minneapolis, MN

More dates at: TalkTools.com/Workshops

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Ask a Therapist: Pre-feeding Suggestion

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on



I was interested in a couple of your products and what would be suitable for both of my daughters.


Anne is 5 and a half and has Autism. She has been doing a Son-Rise program for over a year. We have seen some great progress with her responsiveness and social skills, but the speech still seems a little stuck. We did speech therapy for over a year and saw no change, so I feel like it is a dyspraxia. She does have some words from time to time, she seems to be trying to push out some speech also but her mouth just doesn't seem to be able to do it.


Erin does not close her mouth much, when she eats off a spoon, she closes her teeth over the spoon not her lips.


We have been using a curly straw and trying to encourage her to blow by practicing in front of her, etc. She breathes through her nose easily when we close her mouth, so we have been advised to try taping her mouth (lightly!!) at night for a period to help her get used to breathing through her nose.

This sounds to me that some pre-feeding steps need to be taken, and that the horns and straws being used are too advanced for her current skill set. For example, we do not introduce "curly" straws until a child is able to drink effectively through Straw #1 in the hierarchy with good posture and dissociation. Jaw stability and jaw-lip-tongue dissociation can be worked on through Lori Overland's pre-feeding exercises, and the bite block program, horns and straws from Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson's three part treatment approach starting at the baseline levels.

So, my second daughter has a few challenges also. Though not autistic, she is delayed in some areas and one is speech. She breathes through her mouth also like her older sister, she has a lot of words and mimics a lot and its getting clearer but I feel she does need a little support.

Since the information you provided is very general, I feel both your daughters need an evaluation to determine baseline oral motor skills to establish a program plan - in addition to a visit to an ear nose and throat specialist to determine a cause for mouth breathing.

I had a look through the products and just felt a little overwhelmed at what product would best suit my girls. Thanks again!! -Lisa

Robyn Merkel Walsh, MA, CCC-SLP

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Ask a Therapist: Oral Motor Strengthening

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

I was just assigned a 13 month old who was diagnosed at birth with bells palsy. He is much better now and the weakness on one side only shows up when he smiles (mom showed me how it droops in pictures). I want to do some oral motor strengthening. I have chosen a combination of your oral motor work and some Beckman strategies, but do you have any specific tips for this case?

I think one of the most important things you can do is to work on his cheeks. (My course “Feeding Therapy: A Sensory Motor Approach” has been updated with new pre-feeding exercises.) I would start with the cheek stretch, then work on cheek resistance and finally fish lip pops. If you can make some specific observations about function, I may have additional suggestions.

Lori Overland

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