Several weeks ago, I expressed my frustration to G, Nathan’s speech therapist, about how he chews his shirts, the tails of stuffed animals, and other inappropriate objects around the house. She ducked into the back and reappeared with two pieces of tubing – green and blue – that she had cut off of a roll and suggested I offer them to him as an alternative when he chews things he shouldn’t.
About a week later, I told her he was wearing the tubing out – both figuratively and literally – and she told me to go online and search for a sturdier “chewy” – she suggested I look for the type that looked like a green “P” (which I initially misunderstood to mean be a “green pea” until I realized that couldn’t be right because…choking hazard). Like I always do when I’m looking for anything to purchase, I went first to Amazon.com.
It didn’t take me long to spot the green “P” and when I did I noticed the manufacturer’s name – ARK Therapeutic. The name sounded familiar, and I realized that ARK had recently emailed me about the possibility of reviewing their products. I promptly found the email, replied, and received a quick response. ARK offered to either talk with me about Nathan’s goals and needs to make a recommendation, or let his therapist make a suggestion.
I chose to talk to G, and she was THRILLED at Nathan’s good fortune.
ARK Therapeutics manufactures over 75 different products for speech, feeding therapy, sensory integration, and fine motor development. G has been using several of the “Grabber” series chew tools in Nathan’s speech sessions for awhile – they come in a variety of sizes, levels of toughness, with or without textures and with or without scents. She suggested the Textured Grabber XT (for Xtra Tough) and the Grabber XXT (for Xtra Xtra Tough)
We’ve had the Grabbers for a couple of weeks now, and he has used them both at home and at speech therapy. G does very specific oral motor exercises with Nathan using both tools, whereas I am more inclined to the liberal approach of letting him chew it whenever he wants, however he wants (though I do watch him and have noticed that he seems to move it around appropriately, almost like he is doing his own therapy…)
Thus far, I’ve been very pleased with the quality of both Grabbers – Nathan “wears them out” without actually wearing them out. 🙂 He chews them really, really hard and I’ve yet to notice any marks or damage. By contrast, he chewed cracks in both pieces of tubing that G gave us fairly quickly. Best of all, he prefers them to his shirts and stuffed animal tails, which helps my sanity because he’s ruined the fibers on more than a couple of shirts.
Aside from satiating his need to chew things, though, the ARK Grabbers are developing his jaw strength and stability, which are important for his speech development. His issues with speech, as with most people with Down syndrome, are related to poor muscle tone in his mouth, which makes it difficult to produce sounds accurately. I’m happy that it’s been easy to get him to do what he needs to be doing, anyway.
If I had one “wish” for the Grabbers, it would be that we could attach them to Nathan in some way. He tends to … ahem … move around a lot and lays them down in strange places and then I have to hunt them down. Although I imagine there’s a good reason they don’t have something like that – because they’re meant to be used supervised (oops!) It would be simple to afix one of those pacifier-keepers to it (or a piece of string to hang around his neck), but I’m not wholly convinced he would keep those on, so I haven’t bothered.
ARK’s website has helpful videos, an “Ask the Therapist” section, and a blog with lots of great DIY therapy tips and hacks. Our experience with ARK thus far has been great – top quality and top service. Highly recommend!
Disclosure: I received the products shown above for free, but received no other compensation for my review. I would have purchased the items on my own but for the happy coincidence of ARK Therapeutics contacting me when they did. All opinions are my own.