I am an SLP working with a four year old boy with autism and apraxia of speech. He has some significant drooling and is non-verbal. I completed the “Three-Part Treatment Plan for Oral Placement Therapy” on-demand course, but was hoping for some guidance from your Instructors.
He is the first child I’ve used Oral Placement Therapy (OPT) with, and we’re working on the Drooling Remediation Program. He’s progressing really well with the Chewy Tubes and the Straw Hierarchy but is not able to volitionally blow on Step 3 of the Bubble Blowing Hierarchy, nor is he able to blow for Horn #1 or hold a tongue depressor between his lips for any length of time.
He is able to produce the /m/ and /b/ sounds, but often not on command. He just recently began to show some lip rounding while producing a /w/ sound.
I did purchase the Pre-Hierarchy Horn and have been working on the ball/exhalation activities. Is there anything else I can/should be doing to help him with blowing?
Also, when he eats, he sometimes will chew the food, remove the bolus from his mouth, rest for a few seconds and then place the food back in his mouth and finish chewing/swallowing. Do you have suggestions on how to address this?
Thank you in advance,
I’m Robyn, a TalkTools® Instructor, and I will answer your questions the best I can without knowing the child.
I will start with the feeding issue first. This sounds like a self-stimulatory associated with the autism or an issue of bolus mobility. He certainly could have chewing fatigue, or perhaps cannot lateralize the bolus to where it needs to go to swallow it. You will need to assess this, and if needed, implement a pre-feeding program such as, Feeding Therapy: A Sensory-Motor Approach. If all is assessed and nothing is wrong from an oral motor perspective, I would work with the child’s behaviorist on a regimented plan to keep his hands down and away from the mouth during feedings.
On to your OPT questions… Phonatory control and volitional blowing can be a very big problem with apraxia. The sounds the child is making can be reflexive in nature but not achievable on command. This is also a defining trait of apraxia. I would consult with OT/PT to start working on rib cage expansion, trunk stability, and core strength as prerequisites for blowing. For now, expose him to the Bubble Program staying on step 2 of the Bubble Hierarchy and practice placing Horn #1 in the mouth and taking it out for the lip closure motor plan. You may also model it for him with your own horn. I often sing, “If you are happy and you know it blow a horn toot toot” and place the horn in the lips when I say ‘toot’. I also place children in a prone position on an OT wedge during this task. Immediately after drilling the horn, use the Apraxia Bilabial Shapes to practice the bilabials.