• Katya McCubbing

Oral Placement Therapy for Children with Down Syndrome

Source: Youtube.

Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson, MS, CCC-SLP

Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson, MS, CCC-SLP is an internationally known speaker on the subject of Oral Placement Therapy (OPT). She specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of muscle-based disorders as related to speech clarity and feeding issues. In 1995, Sara founded TalkTools® as a speakers bureau and source for Oral Placement Therapy (OPT) and therapy tools. She has held seminars throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Europe, Australia, Africa, Latin America and Asia. Over the past 40 years, she has worked in public schools, hospitals, private practice and child development programs. Ms. Rosenfeld-Johnson is the author of Oral Placement Therapy for Speech Clarity and Feeding, Assessment and Treatment of the Jaw, OPT for /s/ and /z/, A Therapist's Guide to Rehabilitative Feeding and Speech Techniques for Teens and Adults, The HOMEWORK Book, the Drooling Remediation Program, and many other educational materials.


There are basic oral-motor skills that are necessary for speech. These are being able to close lips, being able to spread lips, being able to round lips and being able to pull back the tongue. Down Syndrome Education International are researching links between oral-motor development and speech development. There are many tools that you can use to promote your child’s awareness and strength of their oral-motor skills.

  1. Blowing bubbles, horns

  2. Blowing out candles

  3. Sucking through a straw

  4. Chewing foods of different textures

  5. Biting teethers

  6. Bite blocks (from TalkTools TherapyTM)

TalkTools TherapyTM involves tools and techniques to improve oral-motor skills. It is an organisation selling products such as horns, straws, chewy tubes and bite blocks which can be used to facilitate oral-motor development in a structured and step by step way. There is a set of horns that are rated from easy to hard and there are straws that require different levels of sucking to work. This hierarchy can be helpful to give you a starting point and to monitor your child’s progress through the horns and the straws. It is important to be aware that there is little evidence of their efficacy, although there is evidence from parents and therapists that they are useful. For more information go to talktools.com

Source: Down Syndrome Ireland

The Oral Motor Myths of Down syndrome is also a great starting point to explain the ways in which oral motor exercises can be beneficial to children with Down syndrome.

Blog post - Bill and Ria, sharing experiences about life, parenting and Down syndrome. Talk Tools straw hierarchy kit

Noah's Dad - How My Child With Down Syndrome Learned To Drink From A Straw Cup

Libby Kumin - Resource Guide to Oral Motor Skill Difficulties in Children with Down Syndrome

#oralmotor #speech #talktools #feeding #straw

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