Tagged "TalkTools News"

ASHA Convention is next week! Come see us at Booth 423, Sessions 1205 & 1689 ;)

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

TalkTools | ASHA 2016

Who's excited for the annual American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention next week? The convention is happening November 17-19 in Philadelphia, PA. We are ready to blow your mind both at presentations and at booth #423 and serve you the best we can!


At the booth, you will be able to view and handle all TalkTools' signature products, such as the Horn Kit, the Straw Kit, the Honey Bear, the Bite Blocks and more. Any order placed at the Convention will receive a 20% OFF discount and FREE shipping (most orders will even be fulfilled right there)!!!

Anyone visiting the booth can be entered for our raffle featuring Introduction to OPT Kits ($195 value), Online Courses ($30 to $220 value), Amazon gift cards ($250 value) and more! Just come and have your badge scanned. There will also be free bracelets, pens, chocolate and more for everyone ;) And you will be able to be photographed dressed as a super hero  at our super cool photo station to celebrate your successes in speech & feeding therapy.

Another reason to stop by our booth is to chat with TalkTools experts! Lori Overland, MS, CCC-SLP, C/NDT, Robyn Merkel-Walsh, MA, CCC-SLP, Monica Purdy, MA, CCC-SLP & Colette Ellis, M.ED., CCC-BCS-S will be on hand to answer your therapy questions and discuss your Continuing Education opportunities.


TalkTools is scheduled for two presentations that you don't want to miss, Thursday afternoon and Saturday morning.

"Diet-Shaping for Self–Limited Diets in Children With a Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder"

Session Code: 1205 Thursday, November 17, 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM Location: Pennsylvania Convention Center Room: Terrace Ballroom IV Presenters: Robyn Merkel-Walsh, MA, CCC-SLP & Lori Overland, MS, CCC-SLP, C/NDT Instructional Level: Intermediate Abstract Type: Professional Education Speech-Language Pathology Topic Area: Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders

Abstract: Presentation explores 1) the etiology of self-limited diets in autism; 2) the sensory-motor system as it relates to feeding; 3) sensory processing and how it affects the diet; 4) the importance of establishing home–base when conducting a feeding program and 4) diet–shaping based on a sensory-motor approach to feeding.

Learner Outcomes: 1. Improved understanding of the etiology of a self-limited diet 2. Demonstrate understanding of a home-based diet 3. Comprehend the concept of diet-shaping

"Careful Hand Feeding or Comfort Feeding Evaluations: Techniques in Palliative Dysphagia Management"

Session Code: 1689 Saturday, November 19, 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM Location: Pennsylvania Convention Center Room: 204A Presenter: Colette EllisM.ED., CCC-BCS-S Instructional Level: Intermediate Abstract Type: Professional Education Speech-Language Pathology Topic Area: Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders

Abstract: Review the speech-language pathologist’s role of traditional dysphagia management versus palliative and end of life care. Review primary and secondary recommendations made when there is known risk of aspiration. Address ethical questions SLPs face regarding dysphagia management. Instructing professionals or caregivers in careful hand feeding techniques will be introduced.

Learner Outcomes: 1. Describe the difference between traditional speech pathology services and those available during palliative care 2. Demonstrate the consultant role, service and communication needed during palliative care 3. Apply sensory motor techniques which can facilitate ‘careful hand-feeding’ if this is an option chosen by the patient with severe feeding difficulties and dysphagia

See you in Philadelphia!

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TalkTools Team at the Lowcountry Buddy Walk

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on


And ... This is some of us from the TalkTools Team posing at the Lowcountry Buddy Walk last Sunday!!! We are so proud to have donated to this great cause and have met incredible people who live Down Syndrome as superheroes. TalkTools also helps the Down Syndrome community everyday with targeted courses and tools. To learn more, read Colter's success story here  and follow Annabelle updates on TalkTools Blog. Happy Down Syndrome Awareness Month!!!

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Van Riper is Alive and Well at ASHA Connect! (repost)

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

This is a repost from Ages and Stages Blog, owned by Diane Bahr, MS, CCC-SLP, CIMI.

As reported by Robyn Merkel-Walsh MA, CCC-SLP in New Jersey, USA

August 2016

The ASHA Connect conference was held in Minneapolis, MN July 8th-10th, 2016. This conference was a new concept bringing together school, private practice, and healthcare speech-language pathologists (SLPs). SLPs from across North America and Puerto Rico joined together in this process. They could select a track/area of interest, or choose various classes from either track. As a speech-language pathologist who works both in the schools and in private practice, this was a perfect combination of choices for me. Course selections ranged from service delivery models to school law. The exhibit hall included products and literature across the lifespan for a variety of disorders. Being an oral sensory-motor, placement, and feeding specialist, I am always looking to find what courses will support or negate the work that I do. After all, to be on top of Evidenced Based Practice, one must be willing to listen to challenging opinions and hypotheses.

At this conference, I presented a poster looking at “A Modern Look at Van Riper’s Phonetic Placement Approach.” This poster explored 1) traditional versus phonological therapy, 2) the sensory-motor system as it relates to speech, 3) the importance of tactile and proprioception in articulation therapy, and 4) shaping placement of the articulators to improve speech clarity. Therapists were very interested in the visual aspects of this poster which showed historical tactile therapy tools such as feathers and matchbooks, versus modern day therapy tools such as TalkTools Bite Blocks and therapeutic straws.

In the poster session, participants learned about two widely-used models of articulation therapy, that is the traditional and phonological models (Bowen, 2005). While some studies suggest the phonological model may have more positive results than the traditional model (Klein, 1996), Van Riper’s Phonetic Placement Approach may be more useful for individuals who are not able to achieve adequate articulatory placement (Van Riper, 1978) using a phonological approach.

Placement cues are based on traditional therapy models which often rely on the concept that an individual can copy a motor plan suggested by a therapist, such as “place your tongue tip to the spot.” Therapists, however, often struggle with a population of individuals who do not respond well to “look at me and say what I say,” and those individuals often require a tactile-kinesthetic approach to treatment (Bahr & Rosenfeld-Johnson, 2010.) Individuals with dysarthria, dyspraxia (called Childhood Apraxia of Speech in the United States), and/or myofunctional disorders may make slow progress, or no progress at all, without the assistance of tactile-proprioceptive cues. Even though therapists have heard the debate about oral sensory-motor therapy (Bowen, 2005; Lof, 2006, 2007, 2009), clinicians are still widely using phonetic placement and oral placement techniques because they yield positive treatment outcomes (Bahr, 2008).

Clinicians on the Board of Directors for the Oral Motor Institute have struggled with articles equating “oral motor therapy” with what some have called “Non Speech Oral Motor Exercises” (NSOME) seemingly coined by Gregory Lof (Lof, 2009). The term “Oral Placement Disorders” (OPD) was coined by Diane Bahr and Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson in 2010 (Bahr & Rosenfeld-Johnson, 2010). Children with OPD cannot imitate targeted speech sounds using auditory and visual stimuli (i.e., “Look, listen, and say what I say”). They also cannot follow specific instructions to produce targeted speech sounds (e.g., “Put your lips together, and say m”). Although the term OPD is new, the concepts surrounding the term have been discussed by a number of authors and clinicians (Bahr, 2001; DeThorne, Johnson, Walder, & Mahurin-Smith, 2009; Hammer, 2007; Hayden, 2004, 2006; Kaufman, 2005; Marshalla, 2004; Meek, 1994; Ridley, 2008; Rosenfeld-Johnson, 1999, 2009; Strand, Stoeckel, & Baas, 2006).

There has been question and ongoing confusion regarding the definition of NSOME versus the definition of oral placement techniques (Bahr & Rosenfeld-Johnson 2010). Oral Placement Therapy (OPT) is a tactile teaching technique used for children and adults with Oral Placement Disorders (e.g., dysarthria) who cannot learn standard speech sound production using auditory and visual teaching methods alone. OPT facilitates the pre-requisite skills in muscle control to develop dissociation and grading in the muscles of the abdomen, velum, jaw, lips, and tongue for clients who cannot approximate standard speech sounds using instructions. If the client can produce standard speech with adequate oral placement and sound duration using auditory and visual cueing only, OPT would not be included in that client’s program plan.

OPT is a modern extension of Phonetic Placement Therapy (Van Riper, 1954) and The Feedback Model (Mysak, 1971). It is based on a very common sequence (Bahr 2001; Green, Moore, & Reilly, 2000; Hayden 2004; Marshalla 2007; Young and Hawk 1955):

  • Facilitate speech movement with the assistance of a therapy tool (e.g., horn, tongue depressor) or a tactile-kinesthetic facilitation technique (e.g., PROMPT oral cue)
  • Facilitate speech movement without the therapy tool and/or tactile-kinesthetic technique (cue fading)
  • Immediately transition the movement into speech with and without therapy tools and/or tactile-kinesthetic techniques

Lof has stated that the methods used in Van Riper’s Phonetic Placement Approach are not in fact considered NSOME (Lof, 2009). This is why it is important to explore current clinical techniques to determine which activities are considered unrelated to speech production, as opposed to those activities that, in fact, are an extension of Phonetic Placement Therapy (Marshalla, 2007).

Many therapists commented that they use these tools in treatment and feel they work. Others commented that they do not use the tools because they were told by colleagues that “non-speech oral motor exercises (NSOME)” were not evidenced based. I was able to discuss this debate and define the difference between NSOME and OPT. This debate is thoroughly discussed in a prior blog I wrote with Diane Bahr and in many monographs found on the Oral Motor Institute website.

With podcasts (e.g., this one), ASHA presentations (e.g., this one), and the efforts of the Oral Motor Institute, there is certainly some progress being made in defining effective versus ineffective oral sensory-motor treatment. Therapists at the conference were not aware of the many resources available on this topic, so the Poster Session served its purpose in educating therapists on the most recent information.

Another course at the same conference entitled Back in Time: Revisiting Motor-Based Treatment for Speech Sound Disorders by Sherry Sancibrian, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL also discussed Van Riper and Phonetic Placement. Sherry brought attention to the “old” methods of pre-practice and placement (i.e., targets in sounds, syllables, etc.), versus the new methods of concurrent treatment in which the therapist targets random levels of difficulty rather than follow the traditional hierarchy of sounds, syllables, words, etc. According to Sherry, therapists are still using tactile-kinesthetic cues such as dental flossers, craft sticks, and straws to help elicit correct placement for target sounds.

The exhibit hall was also an indication that therapists are using tactile-proprioceptive cues in therapy. Sandra Holtzman and Karen Masters were busy at the Orofacial Myology table helping therapists learn to measure lingual range of motion and use of tactile-proprioceptive cues in Orofacial Myofunctional therapy. Lori Overland and I were assisting therapists at the TalkTools table and gave a seminar on Self-Limited Diets in Children on the Autism Spectrum. Artic-Bites highlighted the Bite-R device which is patented and FDA approved. Overall it was a successful and wonderful conference!

About the Author

TalkTools | RobynRobyn Merkel-Walsh, MA, CCC-SLP has specialized for over 22 years in feeding, oral placement, and myofunctional disorders in children. She is employed by the Ridgefield Board of Education, runs a private practice in Ridgefield, NJ, is the board chair of the Oral Motor Institute, serves on the NJSHA Board of Directors, and is a member of the TalkTools® Speakers Bureau. She teaches OPT, Autism, and Tongue Thrust classes that have been offered for ASHA CEUs and has been invited to speak on Oral Placement Disorders by Conversations in Speech Pathology, Bergen County Region V, the International Association of Orofacial Myology, The Apraxia Network, AAPPSPA, and the MOSAIC Foundation. Robyn has received specialized training in Oral Placement Disorders, feeding, apraxia, Applied Behavioral Analysis, autism, cranio-facial anomalies, Beckman Techniques, and PROMPT.

Meet her! Oct. 15, 2016 in Cape Coral, FL  |  Nov. 6, 2016 in Queens, NY |  Nov. 12, 2016 in San Juan, PR 

About the Blog Owner

TalkTools | DianeDiane Bahr, MS, CCC-SLP, CIMI is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist and infant massage instructor. She has practiced Speech-Language Pathology since 1980 and has been a feeding therapist since 1983. Her experiences include teaching Graduate, Undergraduate, and Continuing Education courses; working with children and adults who exhibit a variety of speech, language, feeding, and swallowing disorders; and publishing/presenting information on oral sensory-motor function, assessment and treatment. She is the author of the textbook Oral Motor Assessment and Treatment: Ages and Stages (Allyn & Bacon, 2001). She has also written a book for parents entitled Nobody Ever Told Me (Or My Mother) That! Everything from Bottles and Breathing to Healthy Speech Development (Sensory World, 2010). Diane maintains a private practice, writes articles appearing in a variety of publications, is interviewed frequently on radio and in magazines, and is an international presenter.

Meet her! Dec. 8-10 in New York, NY

For a copy of the poster A Modern Look at Van Riper’s Phonetic Placement Approach, please click here.


Bahr, D. (2008). The oral motor debate: Where do we go from here? Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Chicago, IL.

Bahr, D. C. (2001). Oral motor assessment and treatment: Ages and stages. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Bahr, D., & Rosenfeld-Johnson, S. (2010, May). Treatment of children with speech oral placement disorders (OPDs): A paradigm emerges.Communication Disorders Quarterly, 31(3), 131-138.

Bowen, C. (2005). What is the evidence for oral motor therapy? Acquiring Knowledge in Speech, Language and Hearing, 7(3), 144-147.

DeThorne, L. S., Johnson, C. J., Walder, L., & Mahurin-Smith, J. (2009). When "Simon Says" doesn't work: Alternatives to imitation for facilitating early speech development. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 18, 133-145.

Green. R., Moore, C. A., & Reilly, K.J. (2000). The sequential development of jaw and lip control for speech. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 45, 66-79.

Hammer, D. W. (2007). Childhood apraxia of speech: New perspectives on assessment and treatment [Workshop]. Las Vegas, NV: The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association.

Hayden, D. A. (2004). PROMPT: A tactually grounded treatment approach to speech production disorders. In I. Stockman (Ed.), Movement and action in learning and development: Clinical implications for pervasive developmental disorders (pp. 255-297). San Diego, CA: Elsevier-Academic Press.

Hayden, D. A. (2006). The PROMPT model: Use and application for children with mixed phonological-motor impairment. Advances in Speech-Language Pathology, 8(3), 265-281.

Hodge, M. M. (2002). Non-speech oral motor treatment approaches for dysarthria: Perspectives on controversial clinical practices. Perspectives in Neurophysiology and Neurogenic Speech Disorders, 12(4), 22-28.

Kaufman, N. R. (2005). The Kaufman speech praxis workout book: Treatment materials & a home program for childhood apraxia of speech. Gaylord, MI: National Rehabilitation Services.

Klein, E. S. (1996.) Phonological/traditional approaches to articulation therapy. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 27, 314-323.

Lof, G.L. (2009). Nonspeech oral motor exercises: An update on the controversy. Presentation at ASHA Annual Convention, New Orleans, LA.

Lof, G.L. (2007). Reasons why non-speech oral motor exercises should not be used for speech sound disorders. Presentation at the ASHA Annual Convention, Boston, MA.

Lof, G.L. (2006). Logic, theory and evidence against the use of non-speech oral-motor exercises to change speech sound productions. Presentation at the ASHA Annual Convention, Miami, FL.

Marshalla, P. (2007). Oral Motor Techniques Are Not New. Oral Motor Institute, 1(1).

Marshalla, P. (2004). Oral-motor techniques in articulation & phonological therapy. Mill Creek, WA: Marshalla Speech and Language.

Meek, M. M. (1994). Motokinesthetic approach [Video Series]. Albuquerque, NM: Clinician’s View.

Mysak, E. (1971). Speech pathology and feedback therapy. Charles C. Thompson Publisher.

Ridley, D. (2008). Treatment of speech production disorders and problem phonemes: Getting to carryover [Workshop]. Saint Louis, MO: Ages and Stages, LLC.

Rosenfeld-Johnson, S. (2009). Oral placement therapy for speech clarity and feeding (rev. 4th ed.). Tucson, AZ: Innovative Therapists International.

Rosenfeld-Johnson, S. (1999). Oral-motor exercises for speech clarity. Tucson, AZ: Innovative Therapists International

Sancibrian, S. (2016). Back in time: Revisiting motor-based treatment for speech sound disorders. Presentation at ASHA Connect Conference, Minneapolis, MN.

Strand, E., Stoeckel, R., & Baas, B. (2006). Treatment of severe childhood apraxia of speech: A treatment efficacy study. Journal of Medical Speech Pathology, 14, 297-307.

Van Riper, C. (1978, 1954, 1947) Speech Correction: Principles and Methods. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.

Young, E. H., & Hawk, S. S. (1955). Moto-kinesthetic speech training. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

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The latest products in Feeding Therapy

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Here are the latest news on TalkTools' product arrivals and updates in regards to feeding therapy.


Our previously called "Dn-Z Vibe Travel Kits" have been upgraded. A replacement battery and a disinfectant have been added in each kit, all for the same price! The new "Vibe & Tips Kit" and "Vibe & Tips Kit with Spoons" now include 1 Z-Vibe with a collection of tips, 1 Z-Vibe replacement battery and 1 4oz spray bottle of PureGreen24, assembled in a sturdy travel case. PureGreen24 has been chosen for its safety and convenience with tools involved in feeding. It is a proven hard surface antimicrobial disinfectant and deodorizer that offers rapid efficacy with unique 24-hour residual effectiveness. Non-flammable, non-corrosive, and odorless, without the fumes or skin irritation associated with traditional disinfectants, PureGreen24 not only kills everyday household germs, but also the most deadly of superbugs. None of the chemicals in this product are considered hazardous by OSHA, and the product is EPA registered for use on children's toys (no rinsing required). The Z-Vibe plastic handle is available in 3 colors: light blue (shown below), light grey and magenta. vibe kit upgrade


The Pre-Feeding Kit has been launched last April, with the help of TalkTools Instructor Lori Overland, MS, CCC-SLP. It includes: 1 Z-Vibe, 1 Blue Tip, 1 Yellow Preefer Tip, 2 Blue Soft Fine Tips, 2 Mini Green Tips, 1 Blue Soft Spoon Tip, 1 Green Bite-n-Chew Tip, 1 Blue Bite-n-Chew Tip XL, 1 Purple Soft Mouse Tip, 1 Replacement Battery and 1 PureGreen24 - 4oz Spray Bottle. The goal of a pre-feeding program is to develop the oral sensory motor skills to support safe, effective and nutritive feeding. This kit was designed in response to therapist and family requests for a comprehensive kit appropriate across the ages and for a variety of feeding issues. It includes a Z-Vibe with a collection of tips, a replacement battery and a safe disinfectant, all in a sturdy travel case. Products are constructed of medical grade materials that are FDA compliant and contain no lead, phthalates, PVC, BPA, or latex. Plastic handle available colors are light blue, light grey (shown below) and magenta. You can win a free Pre-Feeding Kit every month here.

TalkTools - Pre-Feeding Kit


Last but not least, the Therapeutic Feeding Kit has been created this month. It includes: 1 Honey Bear with Flexible Straw, 1 Recessed-Lid Cup, 1 Infa Trainer Cup, 2 Pink Cut-Out Cups (1 oz), 2 Blue Cut-Out Cups (2 oz), 1 Sensory Bean Bag Kit (8 pieces), 2 Sets of Jaw Grading Bite Blocks, 2 Red Chewy Tubes (large), 2 Yellow Chewy Tubes (small), 2 Small Maroon Spoons, 2 Large Maroon Spoons, 2 Metal Cocktail Forks, 2 Green Beckman Easy Spoons (hard) and 10 Syringes 1 cc without Needles. The goal of the Therapeutic Feeding Kit is to support safe, effective and nutritive feeding. This kit was designed by feeding expert Lori Overland, MS, CCC-SLP in response to therapist and family requests for a comprehensive kit appropriate across the ages and for a variety of feeding issues. It includes a collection of mealtime utensils and sensory tools, all in a sturdy travel case. Products are constructed of medical grade materials that are FDA compliant and contain no lead, phthalates, PVC, BPA, or latex.

Feeding Kit

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Every day, as an SLP: A Letter to the Parents of Children I Work With

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

TalkTools | Vanessa Anderson-Smith

"Every morning I wake with cautious optimism for the day, hoping I have breakthroughs with your child and every other child I work with.

Every day I comfort a parent and a family. When I say we are on the right track to get your child to speak just one sound or even eat one mere meal a day, I believe it with all my heart.

Every day I pray that my small words may help the parent and family to get through not even the day, but the hour.

Every day I think and sometimes agonize about my patients from sun up to sun down. While I may be running late between sessions or seem frazzled, your child is never far from my mind.

Every day my heart bursts at the seams when your child accomplishes what could be considered a 'small' feat by some. It is never a small feat to me.

Every day I boast to my husband, sister, parents, and anyone else with ears about the accomplishments your child made.

Every day when I give hugs, a high-5, or a 'good job' I can feel the love and happiness in my bones.

Every so often the reality of working with children who have struggles ahead weighs heavy on my heart.

Every so often I am known to sit in my car and break down over the mountains my patients must climb in order to complete the most basic tasks of a human: eat and speak.

Every day I live out my dream and passion through my career of speech-language pathology.

Every night I count my blessings. You allowing me to be a part of your child's life story is the greatest gift you can give me."

~ Vanessa Anderson-Smith

Vanessa Anderson-Smith is a Speech-Language Pathologist born and raised in South Dakota. She received her Bachelor’s Degree at Augustana University and Master’s Degree from The University of South Dakota. In 2013 she began Anderson-Smith Speech Therapy, LLC. She is now the only TalkTools® Level 3 Trained Therapist in South Dakota. Her practice focuses on assessment and treatment of motor-based speech and feeding disorders among children and adults. Vanessa lives in Canton, South Dakota with her extremely supportive husband, Ryan.

Visit her website

Visit her Facebook Page

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