Thursday, November 18, 2010

China and ASHA!

We have been very busy of the past couple of weeks!  The above picture was taken during an exciting trip China that Rene and I were fortunate to take.  We were invited and featured speakers at the 'China Rehabilitation Workshop' in Shenzhen, China on October 30th and 31st.

We presented to over 300 individuals at the event, which included attendees from all over China. We have made a series of trips to China over the past couple of years and this was the best so far!  During this specific trip we also trained 70+ individuals in TalkTools Level I and Level II so they are able to implement the techniques correctly!

Please come see us at ASHA at booth 235!
This year's theme is "Leadership into New Frontiers", and the focus will be on what we as professionals should be doing to make a difference.  We will have materials set-up and we look forward to re- connecting with all while in Philadelphia!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Down syndrome Suckle

Hello again! I've posted a letter I received in email from a mother curious about her son's suckle and tongue protrusion. My answer is below.

Dear Sara,

My name is Erin and I have a child, Flynn, that was born on 11/8/09 with Down syndrome. I just read your article that a friend gave me about the oral-motor myths of Down syndrome and just wanted to share and inquire about the differences I have found with relation to his tongue protrusion. Flynn was born with an imperforate anus witch at times has obviously affected his eating habits especially after each surgery, of which, he has had four. However aside from that he has ALWAYS, since the first moments he was born, had a great suckle. I nursed him for the first seven months and am now bottle feeding. We have had other issues like frequent spit ups and transitioning from the breast to the bottle but he has always had a strong suckle in my opinion and i do have three other kids to compare him with. The question I have for you is that your theory on myth #2 assumes these babies have a weak suckle which causes in turn their tongue protrusion. Since Flynn does not have a weak suckle can you think of another reason why his tongue is always out of his mouth??? Just to give you a little bit more background on Flynn, he has not had an ear infection to date. He does seem to have a chronic upper respiratory infection since birth landing him in the hospital for 10 days with RSV which turned into pnemonia. And, his tongue although almost always protruding out of his mouth unless he's laughing does not seem, again, in my opinion, any larger than normal. My friend that I previously mentioned also gave me a chewy tube. I wanted your opinion after hearing Flynn's story weather this is the right treatment for him and again any other theories to his tongue protrusion.
I'm not sure how to blog, I couldn't figure it out so that's why I'm e-mailing but feel free to ad this to your blog as I'm sure other mothers may have the same questions and concerns. Thank you in advance for your insight and I look forward to hearing any response, ideas or suggestions you may have.

Dear Erin,

Thank you for you email and your interest in my work. You describe your son's suckle as strong but I wonder if it is strong in the correct direction. Children with Down syndrome frequently develop strong tongue skills but they have more protrusion than retraction and that is what I think you are seeing. Your son is 9 months olds so he is ready to transition onto a Honey Bear. This therapy tool will teach his tongue to retract during the suck. A suck (retraction only) is used to draw liquid from a straw while a suckle (retraction and protrusion) is use to draw liquid from the breast, a bottle or a sippy cup. Lori Overland has made a DVD which I feel should be viewed by all parents of babies with this diagnosis. It is called, Developing Oral-Motor and Feeding Skills in the Down Syndrome Population. In it she talks about when and how to introduce specific textures and how to encourage maximum oral skill development for improved speech clarity.

In addition, if possible I would encourage you to make an appointment to meet with a speech-language pathologist who looks at oral-motor skills in addition to language development as both are needed to ensure that Flynn achieves his maximum potential in feeding skills and in oral communication. I hope this helps. Sara

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Letter Received

I recently received this email/letter from a parent and wanted to share:

"Hi my name is Danielle and I have a daughter with down syndrome that did your program for about a year. It was great for her and I only wish we would have found you sooner. She has some structural issues so we got stuck with that. My husband and a few friends and myself did her program daily. It was fun to implement and we really did see results. (Renee Roy Hill was our evaluator and we loved her). I am wondering if you have training to become certified or some kind of approval so as to offer your oral motor information to others? I know you have traveling workshops as well. I am not a speech pathologist, just a Mom, that has done this program and NACD program for a lot of years. Let me know if there is any option out there since 6 years of schooling is just too long at this point in my life, I am in my mid 40's. Thank you for your time! Sincerely, Danielle"

I offer my courses to both professionals and parents throughout the world, and I encourage parents to get and stay involved. If you are a parent interested in learning more I will point you to our webpage and phone numbers here and here.

As always, feel free to email me with more questions!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sara's ASHA Presentation!

I've finally got my ASHA presentation re-recorded and ready for you to download or stream over the web. It is available here:

I didn't feel it was appropriate to film while at ASHA so I had to give the presentation to a camera instead of an audience, never my favorite. So, now you know why the long delay, but you also now have access to the video! I've also included a few of the handouts that go along with it. Please be patient, downloading will take a while. If you are streaming, Windows Media Player and Quicktime both work (I'm told) you just have to give it a couple minutes to get rolling.

Please pass this along to anyone who you know, I really want people to understand these basics of what we do. If anyone needs CEUs they are available through our normal site, but viewing is FREE for everyone.

Thank you!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Upcoming Workshops and Events

Hello! I just want to make sure everyone knows we have added a page to my blog. On the left hand side is a section called Pages, and one of the pages is Workshops Schedule. We will be updating that page as often as we can so please stay informed and spread the word if you know parents or therapists in the locations we will be visiting.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

From Tool to Hand Gesture - Eliciting Sounds

I have been wanting to get more information to therapists and parents for such a long time and I think I may finally be executing the vision.  I plan to experiment with delivering video clips of therapy and evaluation snippets. This particular clip is of Renee Roy Hill performing the transitional technique for moving from objects or tools to elicit sounds towards using hand gestures to elicit sounds.

Please write back and leave me comments for ideas or needs you know somebody has for further video clips. We want to create a log of clips that can be used for reference material for anyone trying to utilize OPT. Exciting!

PS - Just returned from China and hope to get up a little story about it soon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Heart in the Right Place

When I have time I try my best to read articles and blogs from all over the corners of the web.  Many of the pieces I find myself reading are what I have dubbed "Starter Pieces".  These starter pieces are typically written by a parent or professional who has their heart in the right place, are trying to get information out to other people for all the right reasons, but they fall short on completing the whole circle of information.  I'll give an example of one I recently read.

The /m/ Sound (and the rest of the blog itself) is a nice blog set up to pass along information, and frankly they have done a much better job of being dedicated and keeping up the depth of posts than I have. ;)  Regardless, the information is a place for a "mommy" to start [certain distinct sounds, exercises, quick tricks to try]. On the /m/ page, she does mention that some kids may have low tone and to "contact her for exercises", but doesn't address those kids with apraxia who may not be able to access the motor plan.  As a parent if I read that and my child couldn't do the work, I'm not sure I'd know where to go next.  Also, if you look into her blog at her "exercise" recommendations, they are the generic type...put your lips together over and over on a tongue depressor or straw to eliminate drooling. Did we forget that their may be sensory, jaw and tongue issues involved?

In my younger years I often felt that this information was misleading or doing a disservice on some level because I knew there was SO MUCH more information and training needed to address many of these issues.  However, today I feel differently, I feel encouraged that people will put themselves out there for review, for crticism and praise, and dedicate themselves - I know it takes a lot of time.  So if you find articles or blogs or have questions, pass them along, make comments on here, and I will do my best to continue closing the circle on as many Starter Pieces as I possibly can!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Parents Are the Linchpin

Good morning everyone!  I was reading a couple blogs this morning when I found a nice post regarding parents performing therapy at home.  More than a couple parents commented to the post stating how they often forget and feel bad for not performing therapy as a regimen.  Sometimes is takes support groups, reminder buddies, a beeping appointment on your phone - whatever it takes, PARENTS YOU ARE THE LINCHPINS!  Thank you for sharing and being honest, thank you for for stepping to the plate.  Your therapists cannot succeed without you.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why Teach?

After 6 weeks on the road I am finally back in Tucson for a little R&R. Teaching my classes in Oral Placement Therapy (OPT) for Speech Clarity and Feeding is one of the joys of my life. Even though this takes me away from home I have felt for a long time that this is what I need to do at this stage in my career. Every once in a while I meet someone who confirms to me, once again, that I have indeed made the correct choice (I wish for everyone to have this experience in their careers).  I was teaching my “Three Part Treatment Plan for Oral-Motor Therapy” class in Springfield, Massachusetts in March.  Just as I was about to walk to the front of the room to begin a women in her mid-fourties rushed to the registration table totally out of breath. She had no idea who I was and said to me, “I have a terrible headache, my daughter is sick and I should be home with her. I have no idea why I am here as I am probably going to quit my job as speech therapy is no longer what I want to do. I didn’t sleep too well last night so forgive me if I rest my head on my arms and fall asleep.” My husband Phil, always the gentleman, led her to her seat and asked her if he could do anything for her.  She just needed rest.

At the end of the second day the same woman, who by the way never did fall asleep, came up to me. This time she took my hand and said, “You have changed my world. For the first time you have explained the science of speech therapy and I cannot wait to get back to my clients on Monday.” What a great day!

So my family and friends, now you know why when you call you never know if I will pick up the cell phone in Tucson or in Canada. Next stop… China.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pediatrician’s Need to Know

I know it has been a long time since my last entry but I do have an excuse. This field of Oral Placement Therapy is getting so popular that I have had no time to sit down and write this blog. my wonderful son-in-law Travis keeps telling me it is smething I need to keep up on. So my 2010 New Year's resolution (a bit late I must admit) is to write one time per week from now on. Yesterday I assessed a one year old baby with the diagnosis of Down syndrome. The child is uning a pronounced tongue thrust during function for feeding and for babbling. The mother askling me why her peditrician had not told her about my earluy intervention feeding techniques and I had no answer for her. I would love it if each of you would download this article (The Oral-Motor Myths of Down Syndrome - at bottom of page) and bring it to your pediatrician. If only one doctor reads it and gives it to one parent of a newborn with Down syndrome wouldn't that be terrific? Thanks for your help in spreading the word.