Oral Motor issues are common to children with DS - mainly due to their low tone. There are many things which can be done to strengthen the oral motor muscles. The oral motor muscles are the cheeks, lips, tongue, mouth, etc. There are many areas that they need help with alot of the time - lip rounding, tongue retraction, lateral tongue movement, and the list goes ON and ON! There are a ton of different therapies you can do in this area. For anyone looking for more information on this, please see Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson's Oral Motor Therapy at TalkTools. She has a really good 6-hour DVD set on the DS Population.
But, one of SRJ's main therapy "tools" is teaching the child to learn to drink from a straw. This helps with muscles in their lips, cheeks and also helps tongue retraction. To help teach your child to learn to drink from a straw, TalkTools sells a honey bear with straw cup. This works so well to teach the child to learn to drink from a straw. My brother learned to drink from a straw, by using this honey bear, in TWO DAYS! We've seen a great improvement in my brother already in the several months he's been using Straw #1 in the straw hierarchy.
Anyways, onto the sippy cup which I was going to put up here. This sippy cup that is great for OMT is called Playtex QuickStraw Stage 4 Sippy Cup. It can be hard to find at times, but it can be found at Walmart, Raphs or on Ebay (the best deal). The cool thing about this sippy cup is that the straw is almost identical to a regular straw, with the same size etc, except of course it's a different texture. When you get these cups the straw that the child drinks out of is a couple inches long, so I can cut about 1/2 an inch or so off of the straw and my brother has a shorter straw that is almost the same exact length as his Straw #1 (we've cut it down alot, since he's progressed). So, you can use this sippy cup and cut down the length as you cut down the length on your Straw #1. The point of cutting down the length is so that the child learns to suck with his lips, instead of his tongue. He should only be sucking with a 1/4 ro 1/2 an inch of the straw in his mouth - not much at all. We've noticed a set-back with my brother if we get lax and don't make him only drink out of these certain sippy cups or his Straw #1. So, we've gotten rid of all other sippy cups and have only these in the house - so he won't ever use any other sippy cup that might be laying around. Here's a picture of what this sippy cup looks like:
Below is another picture of the cup and the red line across the straw is how short I cut the straw for my brother. It works GREAT!!
There are also a few other brands and kinds of sippy cups that have this same silicone straw. So, you can also get those other ones and cut the straw down the same way. All of these cups with this particular silicone straw are good, since they are like a regular straw and it helps the child's muscles. Here are links to a few of the other brands and kinds that have this same silicone straw: