Tagged "prefeeding"

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: Feeding after attending the Feeding course

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

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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Ask a Therapist: Feeding Issue with child that has Beckwith Wiedmann syndrome

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Dear Lori,

My child who is 2 1/2 years old was diagnosed with Autism and Beckwith Wiedemann at 1 1/2 and is receiving Early Intervention and making great improvement.  His greatest issue is feeding: he eats all foods as long as they are smashed; when he bites into anything his tongue kicks the food back out and there is no chewing.  We have had endless visits to specialists and doctors but no one can correctly diagnose his feeding issue. I've been through numerous Feeding/Speech Therapists through EI and no improvement has happened and a lot of unanswered questions remain.  My OT suggested I reach out to you and do some networking and so I hope you can help and lead me in the right direction because I feel as if there are not enough resources for parents who have children with feeding issues. Thank you

I would be happy to try to help you with your son's feeding issues.  Children with Beckwith Wiedemann syndrome typically do not have good tongue mobility.   My experience has been that mobility through the lateral borders of the tongue and tongue tip are reduced so children use a protrusion retraction pattern to compensate.  If you think about eating solid foods, you take a bite and use your tongue tip and the lateral border of your tongue to move the food back to your chewing surface (about where your first molar inserts).  Food is then stabilized between the lateral border of your tongue and your cheek as you chew.  If the bolus of food is large you move the food to the opposite lateral molar ridge. When the food is well enough broken down you get sensory input to swallow.  Given the size of the lingual musculature in relation to the size of the oral cavity a true rotary chew pattern is difficult to facilitate. However, I have had children who can get increased lateral tongue movement.

In addition, many children with Beckwith Wiedemann have low muscle tone, and reduced sensory awareness which impacts breaking down food and knowing when it is adequately broken down for swallowing. When you are brushing your son's teeth you can stroke the side of the tongue from back to front (4-5x on each side) to help facilitate mobility through the lateral borders. You can also try introducing a Cheerio size piece of food on the side of your son's mouth (about where his first molars are) to see if he is better able to chew the bolus.  I teach a two day sensory motor feeding class which is available live and in self study.  I also have a feeding book that can help. These resources will help you with pre-feeding strategies which can facilitate the motor skills your son needs for safe effective nutritive feeding. You can also look on the website to see if there is a therapist in your area who can evaluate your child and plan a program. 


Lori Overland MS CCC-SLP, C/NDT

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Ask a Therapist: Biting through Chew Tools

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

My 5 year old son has Down syndrome and chews on grabbers (purple and green Ps). He chews and bites so hard that he bites through the tubes. Any recommendations? He only eats pureed food, bananas and cheerios. He can chew chicken but doesn't want to.



It sounds like your son likes the sensory information he gets from these tools and uses them frequently! You may want to look at how he is chewing on the tools. When using the tools on their own, many children who are sensory seekers grind their teeth back and forth rather than chewing up and down. Besides causing the tools to break down quickly, the children do not learn the up and down chew skill we hope to teach.

There may be a couple of options. TalkTools has a therapeutic Bite Tube Hierarchy that may be a good addition to your current program to teach him to use a controlled up and down chew (this is a pre-requisite prefeeding program when we work to introduce solids). By doing this systematically throughout the day, and being aware of the movement he's using, you can give him the input he's looking for, but also develop better jaw stability and grading skills that he can use for chewing foods and for speaking. You may also want to look at Lori Overland's course "Feeding Therapy: A Sensory Motor Approach.” She teaches how to develop these skills for feeding. Consider looking at some alternative tools for him to chew on that discourage a grinding movement as well. The Knobby Green Chewy Tube has bumps that often facilitate a better chew pattern.

I hope this helps!

Renee Roy Hill

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