Feeding specialists must select appropriate tools when facilitating feeding skill development. There are a myriad of materials available that make it challenging for therapists to select the tools that match the needs of their pediatric clients. Therapro is always in quest of useful, practical, and therapeutic oral-motor and feeding tools that will promote feeding skill development. Innovative designs are widely available to therapists and families for utensils, cups, and oral tools that are conceived to help advance oral development and feeding skills. We’ve reviewed extensively what is available to therapists and families, and are able to offer these new items from ezpz with our stamp of approval. All materials used are safe and a breeze to clean.
Oral Development: Oral Development Tools are designed to provide oral sensorimotor input for babies and youngsters who are beginning to explore their mouths. The 3 tools (loop, smile, and stick) are easy to grasp and provide smooth and textured surfaces. They can be used without food to explore oral movement for pre-speech activities, provide oral sensation, and can also be dipped in liquids and graded food textures to facilitate oral motor skills of the lips, tongue, jaw, and cheeks. The Oral Development Tools are a great tool for facilitating early feeding skill development.
Utensils: The Developmental Utensil Set consists of utensils for infants age 4 months+ called Tiny Spoons; Mini Utensils (fork and spoon) for infants age 12 months; and Happy Utensils (fork, spoon, and knife) for children 2 years+. The entire set consists of 7 utensils that can be used as the child’s feeding skills develop. The Happy Utensils are available as a separate set that encourage safe and successful self feeding. These utensils are a great tool for facilitating the development of scooping, piercing, spreading and cutting needed for successful self feeding.
Cups: The Developmental Cup Set is a developmental training system for teaching cup and straw drinking skills. It introduces open cup drinking for infants 4 months+ using a Tiny Cup (2 oz). The Mini Cup and Straw Training System is the next level with a 4 oz cup, screw on lid and flexible, durable straw for infants 9 months+. For the older toddler (2 years+), the Happy Cup and Straw System consists of an 8 oz cup with screw on lid and flexible, durable straw. The system promotes oral skills including lip closure, lip rounding, tongue cupping and elevation. All 3 of the cups are available individually as well as in the set.
These ezpz tools are a great resource for facilitating feeding skill development. You will be able to examine and try out these new products and many more when you visit Therapro’s exhibit at the ASHA Conference in Boston on November 16-18. We’ll see you then!
Teachers and speech language pathologists (SLPs) can use highly interactive social language roleplay activities to improve the social-ability of their preschool students. During these fun lessons children learn strategies to help them to establish joint attention so that their communication attempts will succeed.
Why do so many Of preschooler’s attempts at communication fail?
Failed communication attempts are not uncommon for preschool-age children, especially those with social language challenges, such as autism. The missing key is joint attention.
One child begins to talk about his painting, “I made a fish.”, but the other child turns away. There’s no joint attention, so communication fails.
One child asks, ”Where is the truck?”, but the other child talks over them commenting on their bridge. There’s no joint attention, so communication fails.
One child requests the red train, “I wanna have the red one?”, but the other child talks about his new shirt. There’s no joint attention, so communication fails.
One child comments on their toy cat, “My cat is scratchy.”, but the other child just ignores them. There’s no joint attention, so communication fails.
Joint attention ensures that both the speaker and the listener are looking at, referring to and or thinking about the same topic. Adults take responsibility for creating joint attention with children by getting down on their level, by following their lead and by persevering in calling their attention to interesting objects or events. Therefore, communication with adults is often successful.
However, peers with social language challenges are less likely to be able to initiate and or respond to other’s attempts at joint attention resulting in many missed opportunities to successfully close the communication circle.
It is interesting to note that most babies should be following the gaze of their parent by turning to look at whatever their parent is looking at by 6 months of age. Babies begin pointing by 8-9 months. Babies use gestures, eye gaze and vocalizations to get caregiver’s attention by 12 months (for more, see Developmental Milestones on page 196 of Social Language Rules and Tools).
What is happening?
In order for a communication attempt to succeed, the speaker and the listener have to create joint attention toward each other, toward an object or toward an idea. Joint attention is the key to success in completing the communication loop. Many preschoolers, especially those on the spectrum, are still developing this skill. That’s why communication attempts with adults, who take responsibility for creating joint attention are much more likely to succeed than preschooler’s communication attempts with peers. The speaker needs to be aware of their listener’s needs.
“If I don’t get their attention then they won’t know I’m talking to them.”
“If I don’t get close enough to them they might not hear me.”
“If I don’t say it in an interesting way they might not notice me.”
The listener needs to be responsive to the speaker.
“If I don’t look up or say a word then they won’t know I heard them.”
“If I didn’t understand what the speaker said then I need to ask.“
It is prompted with non-verbal devices, such as, gestures, pictures, objects, etc.
It is presented in integrated group lessons.
It is modeled by typical peers and supportive teachers.
It is incorporated into increasingly novel play, conversation and learning activities.
An example of an activity that provides needed direct social language instruction is Tap and Call, from the Rules and Tools Curriculum. Tap and Call is the first rule of the 68 rules and lessons in the Social Language Rules and Tools Curriculum and is taught to increase successful interactions by ensuring joint attention. If you teach preschoolers to Tap and Call then:
The preschooler who is speaking will get close to the listener
The preschooler who is speaking will look at the listener
The preschooler who is speaking will gain the listener’s attention
With this the preschooler who is listening is much more likely to respond with eye contact or a verbal response; they will establish joint attention and the communication circle will be complete!
How to teach this?
Roleplay! Through roleplay, parents, teachers and speech language pathologists can engage preschool children in interactive lessons to teach these skills.
For example, using a large pointer finger prop (which is easily and inexpensively cut out of foam board) creates drama as adults model Tapping and Calling their listeners before they talk. Best of all, this can become an interactive game for the preschool audience watching the role play. Encourage your preschoolers to call out “FREEZE, YOU NEED TO TAP AND CALL!” when the adult role players ‘forget’ to Tap and Call before talking.
Enhance the learning experience with a multisensory element like singing. In the example above preschoolers can say and clap out a chant: “They might not notice me at all, if I forget to ‘Tap and Call’!”
Using songs when teaching social language rules can tap into different learning styles. Songs have been shown to improve attention and memory. Tap and Call has a song to the tune of “TAPS” (see Social Language Rules and Tools Curriculum for the words to the Tap and Call song).
Adults and peers can use the large pointer finger prop/token along with the chant and song to playfully generalize the Tap and Call rule to the classroom during snack, games, crafts, and free play activities. These props, chants and songs can be sent out of the classroom to many different settings within the school and to the child’s home to ensure generalization of new rules to different environments and to different people.
Some children are missing positive communication experiences over and over in every possible interaction with peers, teachers, siblings and parents. What a lot of missed opportunity and missed reinforcement from those possible interactions! Unlike ABA and Playfulness therapies where adults do all the work, Social Language Rules and Tools Curriculum teaches communicatively challenged children to recognize and implement subtle, key rules or behaviors that their more successful peers use intuitively all day long.
The rule sets are listed in developmental order based on literature review (included in the program on pages 195-229).
Stay tuned for the next Talk and Play blog for Lesson 1.2 Answer, ‘What?’
Creating community, supporting students at the ASHA Schools Connect 2023 conference!
From July 13th to July 15th, 2023, Long Beach, California witnessed a vibrant gathering of school based speech and language professionals and vendors at the 2023 ASHA Schools Connect conference. Our team from Therapro was delighted to participate in this enriching event, and we are excited to share with you the three standout highlights from this remarkable conference.
1. Expanding Horizons: Connecting with Vendors and Embracing Innovation
One of the most exhilarating aspects of ASHA Schools Connect 2023 was the opportunity to connect with vendors who showcased cutting-edge products and assessments. For Therapro, this was a gateway to introducing new items on our website and expanding our range of therapeutic supplies. Among the remarkable additions are the innovative ezpz feeding products, designed to make mealtime a breeze for children with various needs. These products promote independence and self-feeding while encouraging healthy eating habits.
In addition to feeding products, we have also embraced new evaluation tools that empower speech-language pathologists in their practice. Some new additions to the Therapro website include the Oral Passage Understanding Scale (OPUS) and the Early Functional Communication Profile (EFCP) . The OPUS has proven to be a valuable tool for assessing listening comprehension and the EFCP measures subtle, functional changes in nonverbal communication skills in children with severe disabilities.
Be sure to check out all of the new products recently added to the Therapro website and stop back often to see all of the updates that are coming!
2. Empowering Therapists: Product Demonstrations
The Therapro booth at the conference showcased the latest therapeutic products, with a focus on empowering therapists and engaging their young clients. One of the best parts of conferences is debuting our newest products. At ASHA Schools Connect the star attractions was Kokolingo, a versatile and interactive language-building game. Its adaptability allows therapists to customize sessions according to individual goals, making articulation therapy engaging and fun for children of all ages.
Beyond unveiling new products, we also reintroduced classic favorites like NOVENOPS. This captivating game has been a staple in speech therapy for years, promoting language skills and cooperation among players. As therapists and attendees rediscovered the joy of NOVENOPS, it served as a reminder of the enduring impact of tried and tested therapeutic tools.
3. Spreading Joy: Prizes and Giveaways
ASHA Schools Connect 2023 was not only an occasion for learning and networking but also a time for celebrating the community’s dedication and passion. As part of the festivities, Therapro proudly hosted a series of exciting giveaways, including a generous Therapro gift certificate. This certificate gives therapists the freedom to explore our extensive catalog and select the supplies that best suit their therapeutic needs.
In addition to the gift certificate, we were thrilled to give away a copy of “Social Language Rules and Tools: A Preschool Curriculum,” an essential book for professionals seeking to enhance social communication skills in preschoolers. This valuable resource is packed with practical strategies and activities to foster meaningful connections and enrich social interactions.
Embracing Growth, Innovation, and Collaboration
The ASHA Schools Connect 2023 conference was a success for Therapro, fostering new partnerships, introducing innovative products, and reigniting enthusiasm for timeless therapeutic tools. We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have been part of such an enriching event, and we’re thrilled to share these highlights with our community of therapists.
As we move forward, we are committed to continuously expanding our range of therapeutic supplies, ensuring therapists have access to the latest tools to empower the young minds they work with. At Therapro, we firmly believe in the power of growth, innovation, and collaboration, and we are excited to embark on this journey together with all the incredible professionals who make a difference in the lives of children every day.
We eagerly look forward to the next ASHA Schools Connect event, where we can once again join this dynamic community, learn, grow, and celebrate the remarkable field of speech and language therapy.