Ask A Therapist: Trouble Blowing

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Hello. I recently purchased the parent kit to use with my son, Patrick. Patrick is 4 years old, has autism and low-muscle tone, and is not yet speaking.  I would like to begin the program with him as soon as possible, but he does not understand how to blow yet. I have begun to work on this by modeling and using bubbles, and will ask his school to focus on this goal. Do I need to wait until he can blow a horn to start or can I begin with just the straws and chewy tubes?


Also, Patrick constantly pulls straws out of cups while drinking. Do you have any suggestions for this? I thought about buying more lip blocks to put under the cup lid so that he won't be able to remove it.



Hello and happy new year!

Thanks for your questions regarding our parent kit.

You can start with straws and bite tubes before blowing tasks absolutely. In fact by working on jaw lip tongue dissociation you are targeting the necessary skills to move towards phonation tasks.

I'd consult with PT/OT to help with blowing. This is often a sign of apraxia but also is an issue with core strength and rib cage expansion. Start with bubbles step A of the hierarchy - this is is when you pop the bubbles on the lips. It's great to do this with your child laying in a prone position pushing up on the hands for core stability.

Finally I often put a rubber band under the lid on the straw wrapped rightly 5 or 6 times so the straw can't be pulled out!

Thanks for your interest in TalkTools!

Robyn Merkel Walsh, MA, CCC-SLP 

1 comment

  • pjc

    i appreciated your comment about how to keep the straw in the cup.. i will try that!

    Also the suggestion about the positioning on prone for help with bubble blowing will be another thing I will try.

    Interesting that this problem with blowing could be an indicator of apraxia… working on core strength and rib cage extension… i will definitely consult with our EI teams’ PT and OT.

    Thanks again!

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