Ask A Therapist: Thickened Textures, Straws & Horns

Hello, I have some questions regarding your therapy tools/techniques:

1. Why is the goal to have 1/4 inch of the straw in the mouth for the straw hierarchy? Why does the length matter?

2. Do you work on the thickened textures program with the hierarchy straw program simultaneously or should they be done subsequently to the completion of one of the programs?

3. Where can you obtain nectar?

4. Many of the horns have the same type of mouth openings. What is the purpose of having multiple horns with the same type of openings – do they really target different sounds and oral motor postures?

Thanks for your help!


Dear Devorah,

Hi my name is Monica Purdy and I am a TalkTools® Instructor. I wanted to answer some of your questions.

1. The goal for having the straw 1/4 of an inch in the mouth is due to working on lip dissociation from jaw, and tongue dissociation from jaw. If clients are putting the straw on their tongue and are using 1/2 of an inch or an inch, they are probably suckling instead of using tongue retraction. Tongue retraction – especially back of tongue side spread (which is what straw #8 works on) – is important for co-articulation.

2. Once you get to straw #5, you can then begin to use the second straw hierarchy with thickened puree. Often you will be using both of these hierarchies simultaneously.

3. Nectar is the consistency of the puree. For example, use tomato juice. Remember you do not have to use tomato juice, but the consistency of tomato juice. You can also thicken any liquid using nectar packets.

4. The horns really do target different sounds. Some of the horns are flat mouthed horns but the child starts to work on lip dissociation, because the mouth piece becomes smaller and requires more lip tension to make the sound and an increase in tongue tension.

I hope this helps, if you have any additional questions please let me know.

Monica Purdy

Monica Purdy, MA, CCC-SLP has more than 14 years of professional experience specializing in helping children with special needs to communicate. Monica is PROMPT and SOS trained, familiar with sign language, and well-versed in the use of augmentative devices. She is the owner of Kids Abilities Pediatric Therapy Clinic in Indianapolis, IN. In addition to her private practice, Monica is a member of the TalkTools® speakers bureau and has been invited to speak at numerous conventions and seminars across the U.S. and internationally. She is a graduate of Ball State University.

Meet her!

January 29 – 30, 2016 – Oral Placement Therapy: Assessment & Program Plan Development – Middlesex, NJ

February 11 – 13, 2016 – 2016 ISHA Convention – Rosemont, IL

March 16 – 17, 2016 – Oral Placement Therapy: Assessment & Program Plan Development – Sacramento, CA

March 18 – 19, 2016 – Oral Placement Therapy: Assessment & Program Plan Development – San Diego, CA

April 7 – 10, 2016 – 2016 MSHA Convention – Osage Beach, MO

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Talktool admin 07 Dec 15