Children with Down syndrome have something called hypotonia or low muscle tone. It is important to remember that it affects all muscles, which means the tongue and oral facial muscles also have low tone. The hypotonia makes it rather difficult to form sounds and words. By working those oral maxillary muscles, you are helping your child develop speech.
My daughter Ellie not only has low muscle tone, but she also has sensory processing disorder. She is a oral seeker. She always has something in her mouth. She craves oral sensory input.
One of the easiest ways to improve oral facial muscle function and to satisfy sensory cravings is to drink thickened liquids through a straw.
This is easier than you might think and it gives our kids some independence in feeding themselves. All you really need is a straw. Hard straws are the best to start off with and then increase the difficulty by using more flexible straws (such as the kind from restaurants) or swirly straws.
For thickened liquids, we use pureed stage 2 baby foods with the foil top and individual servings of applesauce (also with foil top). You can also use yogurt.
So there you go, high sensory input while increasing oral facial muscle strengthen. Plus, you get to skip the spoon feeding!