You might notice that many babies and young kids with Down syndrome have a habit of sticking out their cute little tongues.
There’s some debate about why this happens, but causes might be hypotonia (or low muscle tone) or having a small mouth and high palate, which can make the tongue a little too big for the mouth.
We’ve been working on keeping James’ tongue in his mouth ever since he was a wee little guy through a number of things. We’ve done oral motor exercises with our therapists; used a toothbrush, wet washcloth, or z-vibe to stimulate the oral muscles; and James has worked hard to be able to drink out of a super short straw.
|Drinking out of his Honey Bear straw cup from Talk Tools|
Since he now is able to understand the concept of keeping his tongue in his mouth, for the past couple of months, we just say, “tongue in” and lightly touch his tongue so he pulls it back in his mouth.
The other day, James decided to take matters into his own hands when I said, “tongue in, please,” and before I could reach his mouth, he stuck his own little finger in his mouth and adamantly pushed in that tongue.
After a couple of days of pushing in his tongue himself, he decided that maybe I needed some work on tongue placement, and he was the man for the job.
And now we have a weird, fun game we play.
We’ve created the tongue police. Watch out, Michael Jordan. :)