Two weeks ago, Marcia, Verity’s occupational therapist, showed me the proper way to teach Verity to eat from a spoon. She picked that up quickly, and has been gaining proficiency ever since.
This past Wednesday, Marcia said that Verity was ready for the next step–cup drinking!
***I should explain two things here.
One, as you may know, many individuals with Down syndrome have low muscle tone, and that can affect their ability to eat properly, especially as babies and children. Nearly 100% of the time, this low muscle tone and its effects also causes difficulties with clarity of speech. We were prepared that Verity might need extra intervention to help her overcome her feeding obstacles. We also have the long-term goal of enabling her to enunciate as clearly as possible as she grows older.
Two, part of our intervention is that Verity will not be using a regular sippy cup, as that type of cup would encourage her to use her oro-facial muscles in the wrong way, by thrusting her tongue forward. She will learn to drink from a straw cup, as well as from a regular cup, as both of those will work her muscles in the best way for her. Because of her low muscle tone, the most natural thing for her to do with her tongue is to let it hang out, and it will take concerted hard work over a long period of time for her to keep it in consistently. So we do all we can to push Verity to use her muscles to keep her tongue up and in, instead of down and out!***
Back to Wednesday! Marcia showed me how to start teaching Verity to drink from a regular cup, using a tiny, 30 mL medicine-cup~
We made her a little prune smoothie, using my milk to thin out some pureed prunes. The thickened liquid is much easier for her to control at this point than a thin liquid like water. That will come, but she’s not ready for it yet.
And she caught on right away! She drank from that tiny cup like a pro!
Next step was to introduce the straw.
Marcia cut about four inches off a drinking straw, and dipped it into the smoothie, then transferred that to Verity’s mouth to cue her to suck. At first, the smoothie just ran into her mouth, and she smacked her lips, but after several tries, she gave a little suck here and there. She was catching on!
So my assignment was to work with her on those two skills, alternating them from one feeding to the next rather than mixing the skills during one feeding session. And when Marcia came back in two weeks, we could see if Verity was ready to learn to drink from a straw.
Marcia wrote up the plan in her notes and we said goodbye. And then…