Tongue protrusion and low muscle tone (also known as hypotonia) are common among individuals with Down syndrome. Is it because of an enlarged tongue? Is it because of hypotonia (low muscle tone)? Contrary to the belief that it is because of an enlarged tongue, I have come across some literature that low muscle tone leads to tongue protrusion. I mentioned this in my previous post "On Tongue Protrusion". The article "Tongue Protrusion" by Karen Henderson SLP, explains it and provides suggestions to promote tongue retraction. (The article is available as a .pdf file online. Google Tongue Protrusion Karen Henderson).
Hypotonia affects all the muscles in the body. The tongue is a muscle. We have mouth muscles that allow us to move our mouths, chew, and keep our mouths closed to keep our tongue in. Without hypotonia, our mouths are naturally closed when we're not talking or eating. With hypotonia, it seems that natural tendency is for the jaw to remain open and tongue thrust to occur.
The TalkTools Straw Kit is one of the tools to inhibit tongue thrust. The idea is to improve mouth and tongue tone through a hierarchy of drinking straws that encourage utilization of various targeted mouth/ tongue muscles.
There are 8 straws. Each straw is different in length, diameter, and form and intended to address certain areas of the tongue. The straws also promote lip closure.
I had considered finding similar straws at dollar stores instead of buying this kit. But it would be too troublesome and time-consuming for me. I also wouldn't have the instructions that come along with the kit.
I recently learned that when drinking out of any straw, even one not in the TalkTools straw kit, only about 1/4-inch of the straw should be in the mouth for proper lip closure and straw drinking. With a lot more than that in the mouth, Matthew starts to suckle the straw instead therefore not encouraging the right muscles to improve tone and promote lip closure.
Matthew started with the straw kit right after Christmas. We are about to move on to straw #3.
Keep in mind that there are many other ways to improve muscle tone and awareness. Chewing (chewy food) is one way to make the mouth muscles work and get that tongue moving around. I listed other tips in "On Tongue Protrusion".
Do you use the TalkTools straw kit? What has your experience been with it?
On Tongue Protrusion