Have you ever had something that jars a memory?  I mean a memory that has been tucked WAY far back in your mind?

I did and its name is THE LIPER.

I will tell you it looked pretty innocent when I first looked at it. But then…BAM!  The memory was there.

Let me describe The Liper first, then the memory.

The Liper is a little device that fits over your index finger just like one of those false nails you would see around Halloween time.  You know the ones that fit over the tip or your finger and have a big long red nail at the tip?  They are supposed to be like witch’s fingers.  Well anyway, The Liper has a white base that goes around your finger, and a instead of a red nail, you will see clear, firm round tip that has a slit in the middle.  When you hold the tip up and look at it, it almost resembles the letter M.  It has a pretty specific job to do and that is to help move the tongue around.

So why does this finger tipped device elicit such feelings Michele?

Because it took me right back to when Elizabeth was three and a half years old, and she was still non-verbal.  For those who do not know, Elizabeth is my daughter with special needs, specifically, global dyspraxia and sensory processing disorder (SPD).   Her sensory issues were pretty big at this time and we had just found a therapist who appeared to be a good fit for her.  She told me all about exercises that we, Elizabeth and I, could do to help her tongue move better.  One of which was to ask Elizabeth to grab her own tongue, and move it up and down and side to side “while she watched T.V.”  This picturesque scene NEVER happened.

But this did….

I can remember how much I wanted her to talk and how many times I tried to literally reach in her mouth and move her tongue up and down.  I was so desperate at that time for her to be successful that I made both her and I really upset more than actually accomplishing anything else.   Her sensory issues were over the top anyway and then add a zero-focused mom reaching into your mouth and you can pretty much see how this whole thing went south pretty fast.

So there is the heart tugging memory I talked about because The Liper would have literally been THE perfect tool to introduce at this time in her life.  I would have been able to do so much better for Elizabeth with this tool.  It would have allowed me to do the oral motor work that was recommended and perhaps have success.  I can also think of the times later in her life when “lift your tongue to the roof of your mouth” was a skill she simply could not do.  How great to be able to help her be successful with that instead of frustrated as is the case due to her dyspraxia.

Now officially, the Liper  is used for post-operative exercises after a child has the surgery for being “tongue tied”  (the official medical term is a frenulectomy).  The Liper is used to help exercise and stretch the tongue and frenulum after surgery.  Post-operative exercises for this would need to be taught and practiced with a professional speech therapist or dental hygienist, trained in this area to be sure all is well.

So if your child is a candidate for the surgery, please take a look at this device and ask about its potential use as well as the availability of a professional who can teach you how to use it as well as support you as you do.

And if your child is like Elizabeth and needs help with other oral motor exercises, take a look at The Liper and see what you and your child’s speech therapist think.

One thing I have to say is that care must be taken to make sure the device is snug on your finger to avoid any choking issues.

So now that I have returned from my walk down memory lane, I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti  author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister