Your mouth is connected to your hip bone (sort of)

Have you got a child with developmental delays?  Are you struggling with their weaning?  Maybe they got onto purees ok, but they are gagging on lumps and finger foods? 

When your child takes puree from a spoon, they can use a similar backwards-forwards sucking tongue pattern to the one they use when they take milk from the bottle or breast.

But dealing with solids or lumpy purees is a much more complex task.  Your jaw needs to go up and down (to bite through things, and get those teeth mashing food), and your tongue needs to go side to side (to move the food to your teeth in the first place).

Your child needs some good underlying skills to accomplish this complicated task!  If your child can’t sit yet, they won’t be stable enough in their core to do sophisticated things with their jaw, lips, or tongue.

When you give your child lumps, but they don’t have the underlying skills, they’ve got no choice but to suck on them.  The forwards-backward tongue motion pushes the lumps forwards and out of their mouth, or backwards where they might stimulate a gag.

So if you want your child to progress with their mouth skills, you need to pay attention to their sitting.  They don’t need to be completely stable, but a good sign is if they can sit in play, and use their arms and hands to interact with toys at the same time.

Whether they sit at 6 months, 2 years or way beyond this, the same principle will apply, and you’re not likely to be able to progress their skills safely (eating textures they are not ready for will put them at risk of choking and having foods enter their lungs- aspiration).

Some of our young people with physical disability will need chairs or other equipment to gain enough stability to work on their mouth skills.  There will be more posts on children with more complex physical disability to come.

Look out also for posts on small changes you can make to your child’s seating to help their oral skills, and the kinds of foods that are likely to help them to progress.

Posts from ‘Find the Key Speech Therapy’ are intended for information.  They are not intended to, and cannot take the place of advice from an appropriately qualified Speech and Language Therapist who knows your child and their circumstances. ‘Find the Key Speech Therapy’ does not take responsibility for the use of any advice without appropriate professional guidance. 






Welcome- Here Are A Few of My Favourite Things

Hi, I’m a Speech and Language Therapist working in the UK.  I specialise in working with children with feeding problems, learning and physical disabilities, from babies through to teenagers. I’m starting this blog because I am passionate about Speech Therapy, and the difference it can make to people. My particular focus will be on children with complex needs and feeding problems, because I don’t think there is enough out there for Parents to educate themselves on this complex topic.  I might post on some other things too though, as the fancy takes me!   So here are some things you need to know about me:

  • I love to work with Parents – We ask a lot of Parents when they step into the world of medical and developmental difficulties.  To have Parents and families trust you to guide them through scary times in their lives is a gift.
  • I love to see Parents empower themselves and advocate for their children – the best therapy relationships are where Parents and Professionals are working together, and both contributing to the process.  I love watching Parents developing in confidence in interacting with their children, and dealing with their Professionals.
  • I like working across community and hospital environments.  It is a pleasure to see people take their babies home and find their feet.  I particularly like the neonatal environment.
  • I love the moment when a child realises that they can tell us what they want and need.  What power!  A lot of the children I work with have had to have a lot of medical treatment, and they usually haven’t been able to be in control of that as they would like.  Feeling a sense of being heard is so crucial to feeling important in the world, to feeling powerful and for a good sense of who you are.
  • I love it when the children communicate what they want to, and not what we want them too.  Children don’t always communicate at convenient times, and why should they?  So if a child can say ‘No’, ‘I don’t want to’, or ‘leave me alone’, I think that’s pretty amazing.
  • I think that communication and independence go hand in hand.  I’m sure I’ll write some more about this some time, but I think it’s really important to start thinking about a child’s independence really early.
  • I have a special interest in all things sensory- more posts on this topic I’m sure!
  • I think the internet is an amazing resource for Parents, but it can also be really unhelpful if the volume of information gets too much.  It is extremely difficult to know if what you’re reading about is applicable to your child.  Speech Therapists are trained to understand what theory and therapy applies to your child and your particular circumstances, and they should help you sift what you are reading about.

I’ve been qualified and worked in the NHS for 13 years.  Though Speech Therapists train to work with adults and children, I have always worked with children, in a variety of settings.  I now work wholly in complex needs and feeding.  I work more with pre-schoolers and primary-aged children, and so I visit a lot of homes, nurseries and schools.

I live in the countryside and love being outside and gardening.  I live with my husband, who is an artist and a truly lovely man, and my dog, who is a character.  I also like to read and watch too much Netflix.  I play the piano poorly but with great joy, and I do some very wobbly yoga.

So that’s me- tell me about you and your young people, and what things you would like to know about their communication and feeding.