We had a breakthrough tonight! It was SO exciting!
We have been working on some strategies to address Maddy’s oral motor struggles. We were warned that it takes a lot of work for slow progress, and they weren’t exaggerating. But, that means when the breakthrough happens it’s time to jump up and down cheering – and really, who doesn’t like cheering?
One of the strategies is – get ready for it – chewing with our mouths wide open. We tend to only practice this strategy at home alone. We show Maddy how we move the food with our tongue onto our back teeth. We use our words to talk about putting the food on our back teeth. Then we do big, exaggerated chewing.
Although we’ve been doing this for a long time, Maddy has really struggled with being able to move the food to her back teeth, especially small foods that move with little effort. Tonight, we had black beans as part of our dinner. Maddy kept putting a bean in her mouth, and when she would imitate our chewing, we could see that the bean was actually sitting under her tongue (though, she was having fun doing the big, exaggerated chews, imitating my sound effects and using her whole head to nod).
After we practice chewed for a few minutes, Maddy let Eric put his finger in her mouth to hold the bean on her back teeth. But, every time her teeth felt resistance, she would stop the biting motion.
We decided to take it to the next level. We excitedly had her watch the bean get all mushed when we would chew. The first time she watched, she gasped excitedly – the bean looked different! The next time Eric held the bean in place for her, she went for it. Maddy gave the bean a huge chomp! Fortunately, she didn’t give Eric’s finger a huge chomp 😉 Maddy immediately spit out the bean to examine it in full detail. She was a bit scared by it, but baby steps, er, toddler steps.
Maddy chewed a bean! Huzzah!!!