It has been such a long time since I have written. I apologize to those of you who depend on our blog to know how our little guy is doing. I hope to pick it back up again.
We just returned from a much anticipated trip to Arizona. At the National Down syndrome conference in Sacramento last summer, I attended an all day workshop with a Tuscon-based Speech and Language Pathologist, Sara Rosenfeld Johnson. She is doing incredible work for children with DS, and her approach really made a lot of sense to me. Since Sara is no longer seeing children one-on-one due to her speaking schedule, she referred me to Jenn Buck of Jabbermouths.
Children with Down syndrome are challenged by low muscle tone. This, along with a smaller mouth cavity, causes a noticeable tongue protrusion. Nate is often photographed with his tongue hanging out. So, as a Personal Trainer, approaching Nate's feeding and speech issues from a muscular perspective really makes sense. There are 14 muscles in the tongue and 82 around the mouth that all need to be "trained" and strengthened to work in harmony.
So, we met with Jenn 3 times over the week we were there and she gave us a program to work on with Nate for the next 6-8 months. This includes a "warm-up" time to prep Nate's mouth for the work, and a variety of tools and methods to help strengthen different parts of his jaw, tongue and mouth. The main thing we worked on was giving Nate added support of the jaw to allow his tongue to do what we were asking it to do.
(warming up the mouth)
We began using the honey bear to teach Nate how to drink from a straw, a modified cup to help him handle food that is place at the end of his tongue and employed a variety of methods with the shallow-cupped spoon. Nate did great and I am already seeing progress with tongue retraction and lip closure.
(The Honey Bear with berry applesauce inside)
(Poor little guy was too exhausted to sit up to eat some banana!)
We will continue to work with our Early Intervention Speech Therapist, but will also stay in touch with Jenn and likely try to visit her 2x/yr.
We're feeling encouraged and proud of our sweet Nate Nate.