International Day of People With Disabilities
Today is the International Day of People with Disabilities. Team ezpz recognizes that children who live with disabilities tend to struggle more at mealtime. For this reason, we are passionate about making feeding products that help children of all abilities. We also give back to organizations that help families in need. To celebrate this international day, we are highlighting feeding tips and some organizations we have supported over the years.
Down Syndrome: Children with Down syndrome oftentimes have tongue thrust that lasts longer than their peers. To avoid this phenomenon, most feeding therapists (including myself) recommend skipping the sippy cup and using a straw cup. However, straw teaching can be stressful when your child requires tactile cues in order to put their tongue back into their mouth (this step is required to drink successfully). Luckily, our Mini Cup + Straw Training System was designed to help this common feeding problem.
- Expert Tip: While drinking, a child’s tongue should retract and elevate to the roof of the mouth. This is considered a mature and safe swallow when drinking. The Mini Straw's sensory bumps provide tactile cues to improve tongue elevation and oral motor coordination. These movements also help to improve your child’s swallowing skills and promote an appropriate resting position of the tongue. In contrast, a sippy cup allows a continued tongue thrusting position, which is the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish.
- Organization: We have been honored to support the feeding and sensory efforts of the Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County, the Down Syndrome Association of Orange County, the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network and the Global Down Syndrome Foundation.
Blind / Visually Impaired: Parents with a child that is blind or visually impaired have shared that teaching feeding independence was a nerve-wrecking activity. But they also explain that our colors (coral and gray) were the exact shade their child needed to help them find contrast between the utensil (or dish) and their food. Score!
- Expert Tip: Feeding abilities are usually visually acquired, but with the Tiny Spoon and/or Mini Utensils children can use their tactile skills (the sense of touch) to promote self-feeding. ezpz utensils have unique features; they are made of soft silicone and have rounded nylon tines + sensory bumps to indicate how far back in the mouth the utensil is placed. This makes feeding safer for children who are visually impaired. For more information about these unique sensory features, you can read our blog for infants and toddlers.
- Organization: We believe awareness and outreach are key to helping children who are blind or visually impaired learn how to independently feed themselves. That is why we support our local school, the Anchor Center for Blind Children, with ezpz products for their infant and preschool feeding therapy programs.
Autism: Finding feeding and sensory products that engage a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be challenging for parents. Focusing on the child’s unique sensory needs can help you choose a product that makes the difference between the child eating or outright food refusal.
- Expert Tip: In my clinical experience, the Happy Mat has helped make mealtime a more calming experience for children with autism. This all-in-one plate and placemat (with a smile) engages their 5 senses and encourages them to try new foods. You can read these two blogs on how the Happy Mat has helped with sound and smell as well as touch, taste and vision at mealtime.
Organization: Team ezpz has supported the Autism Society of Greater Phoenix since 2015, and we admire the work they have done for children with autism and selective eating / feeding challenges.
For more clarification on what a disability is and how to help someone you know with a disability, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has helpful information. This year, team ezpz hopes that you join us in acknowledging the challenges and celebrating the opportunities for children who live and thrive with disabilities.
And if you have a child with a disability and you use our products, we would love to hear how ezpz’s feeding line is helping you have successful mealtime! Please tag us @ezpzfun and/or use the hashtag #ezpzfun so we can share your pictures and tips with our community of parents and medical professionals!
Dawn Winkelmann (M.S, CCC-SLP) is ezpz’s Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Feeding Specialist. She has 28 years of experience teaching parents and medical professionals how to start babies on solids safely and encourage toddlers to overcome picky eating tendencies. In addition, “Ms. Dawn” is the designer of our award-winning feeding products.