Our son, Joaquin, has global development delays.
Our son, Joaquin, has global development delays - at 3 years old he currently cannot stand unassisted, is learning to crawl and cannot safely get out of a chair. Joaquin is also non-verbal. When we scheduled our first appointment with an SLP, Kara at Kids Communicate, about 6 months ago, we were so excited and filled with HIGH hopes! Joaquin was close to turning 3 and although he had some great sounds going on, there was no "ma-ma" or "da-da". The thought of getting started with a speech therapist meant that, just maybe, he'd be communicating soon! We didn’t know how much work we had ahead of us.
Right away, within the first 10 minutes of our first appointment, Kara dropped a bomb on us.
Joaquin wasn't chewing food. At all. He was mashing the food in the top of his mouth with his tongue and when it was soft enough he would swallow it. We had absolutely no idea. The signs were there, we just didn't know what we were seeing and we also didn't know how important this was.
Since he started eating solids we had noticed that he was a very slow eater, feeding sessions could take over an hour! We also knew he couldn't eat anything that was too difficult to chew, but we figured "He's little! He'll work his way up!" Another thing, we had to feed him only what he could safely eat because if given free reign (just a bowl of snacks in front of him) he would put all the food he could see in his mouth to the point of vomiting because he couldn't swallow it. Again, we didn't think it was a BIG problem, we just monitored his food. Oh and one more thing... those super cute chunky cheeks that we all loved 😍 Kara let us know that yes, they were very cute but they were also a sign of low muscle tone.
Receiving this information was a bit overwhelming, to say the least.
...We didn't know how this factored into him not communicating? And the big question: How were we going to fix this?
Thankfully, Kara had a plan!
Joaquin started using the TalkTools straw program, the feeding spoon, the bite tubes, and eventually the Z-Vibe. The results were immediate. After teaching us how to properly feed Joaquin with the TalkTools spoon, we saw that he was getting better closure on his lips. The straws (he's on #3 now!) have made him work hard while drinking, we can actually see the muscles in his mouth working. The Z-Vibe gives him oral stimulation that he needed and really helps to stimulate that muscle development. And the bite tubes, the bite tubes have been the most impressive tool yet! Joaquin's first time trying the red chewy bite tube Kara said she had never seen a child react so well so quickly. Joaquin loved biting, it brought him so much happiness! Biting was something he had been missing and now that he was experiencing it, he was hooked!
Joaquin has moved up to the yellow bite tube now, he holds it on his own and he bites and bites and bites and he knows to position it in the back of his mouth because that's where it feels the best to him! It's something he really enjoys and knowing that through his enjoyment he's gaining strength, really makes us happy!
We are happy to say that Joaquin is chewing his food now, he no longer fills his mouth up until nothing else will fit, and there is a lot of verbalizing going on these days!
Kara really helped us understand that the foundation of oral muscle strength is really vital to communication. Joaquin still has a long ways to go but we know that with the help of Kara and continuing to use (and advance) with the TalkTools program, he's on the right track!
Learn more about Joaquin and celebrate his milestones
at JoaquinsLife.com or on Instagram @JoaquinsLife
Joaquin works with Kara Leach, MA, CCC-SLP who is TalkTools LEVEL 3 ADVANCED trained. Kara's practice is Kids Communicate in Eagle, Idaho. Kara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Awesome, keep up good work.