Monday, February 21, 2011

Oral Motor Development Started Young!

Andi Durkin, who is a mother on the Einstein-Syndrome list wrote to the list a few days ago with an amazing progress report on her little boy who has DS. He's just under 1 year old and is doing amazing in the oral motor area & his speech. Andi has worked hard & researched a lot on what she can do for him.

Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson (from TalkTools) says in one of her DVD's that if a child is doing OM therapy and the TalkTools program from a very young age (just a few months old), "normal" speech can be achieved. I think Andi's son is a great example of that with the progress that he has made so far. I'll just paste what Andi wrote below, since she outlines what they have done and how it has helped.

My husband, Kenny & I took Jett (11 months) to his first speech evaluation with Renee Hill of Talk Tools on Wednesday (through a scholarship from She was amazed! She said that she had to evaluate him using the typical scale, not the one for children with DS. She said he was on par and above the typical child. He has no tongue protrusion, great lip closure, strong jaw muscles, etc. He is on his way to clear speech! She said it was the easiest evaluation she'd ever done and had the least amount of suggestions.

A brief history of Jett's language success:

-He's been "babbling paragraphs" for many months. See/hear Jett at 3 months:
-Randomly said clear words off and on starting with "Daddy" at six months. (okay, alright, go' boy, oh boy, hey)
-He said his first word of intention at 8 months old: "Water"
-Jett said his first two-word sentence on Sunday: "Poopy good-bye!" (I'll spare you the details!)

This progress didn't happen by accident, of course.

First, breast feeding helped to build his jaw muscles and help with tongue thrust, among many other things. (It was so difficult for the first month or so but he finally got the hang of it!)

Second, we've used James D. MacDonald's ( communication methods since he was born.  You can see my stepson, Alex, mirroring Jett when he was 3 months old here: (My husband wrote that he started talking that day--but that wasn't the first day.)

Third, I read the article: The Oral-Motor Myths of Down Syndrome By Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson, M.S.,CCC/SLP (founder of Talk Tools) when Jett was 3 months old and followed all her advice. You can find the article in Qadoshyah Fish's book, Down Syndrome, What You CAN Do.  ( )

Fourth, Kay Ness gave an eye-opening/life changing speech to our DS group that guided me in many ways including emphasizing the importance of keeping our children's nasal and ear canals clear in order to develop proper speech. ( Which eventually led to cranial sacral work, AIR tea and Dr. Block's methods to open his nasal passages & ear canal.

Fifth, through following Kay's ND program since 8 months, Jett has been developing his oral sensory skills (mesh feeding bag, massages, etc.) and increasing his vocabulary (flash cards, songs, etc.).

Sixth, Qadoshyah's blog entry about how to feed our children correctly helped prevent bad habits and showed how to use feeding as oral motor therapy:

So, to Camille Gardiner (friend & DSFF), Kay Ness, Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson, Qadoshyah Fish, James D. MacDonald, Dr. Loi (TCM), Dr. Block, Vicki Booher (cranial sacral), Dr. Franz, and Kristin L. Worishcheck, the lactation specialist, who cheered me on, my mother and Kenny, Alex & Kathy Durkin....


You can see more pictures/entries of Jett at

I'm thankful the book, blog & website were all able to help Andi & Jett as well :).



Looking Up said...

Awesome! I am a firm believer in Talk Tools. I only wish that I had started with their programs when my son was younger.

Chris6h said...

OY...sometimes reading posts like this really bother me. I've been doing OM therapy on Olivia since she was five months old. I wanted to be as proactive as possible so I started early. Unfortunately breast feeding wasn't an option since she had acid reflux. I learned the proper way to have her take a bottle. I read James McDonald's book too and parrot back her sounds and would add one (I still do) - it hasn't made a whit of difference she still doesn't babble! She did do some good back and forth raspberries though. I've given her curcumin - and still no babbling. We started Beckman Oral Motor therapy when she was five months old - BUT she never really babbled. AND she doesn't make sounds properly at all. She most likely has apraxia having lost a few sounds. About four months ago I started Talk Tools therapy, so I'm cautiously optimistic.

It IS totally possible for a child with Down to have minimal oral motor issues despite what the parent does. So while all this is great there ARE NO GUARANTEES - the child is who the child is. This is the part that is so frustrating! A parent can do everything proactive and still the child can be non-verbal.

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