Drinking from a straw teaches your child to close her lips and suck, enabling her to keep her tongue toward the back of her mouth when she talks. It is a useful skill for all children to master; however, it may be more beneficial to those with disabilities as it may improve their speech, reduce drooling and help them overcome other oral-motor challenges.
Cut a regular straw in half. A shorter straw is easier for a child to handle and requires less sucking power.
Put a little of your child's favorite drink into a cup. Don't fill it too much to reduce spillages. Dip the straw into the liquid. Cover the end of the straw with your finger to stop the liquid running out as you lift the straw out of the cup.
Ask your child to part her lips and gently place the end of the straw on top of her lower lip. Take your fingertip away from the end of the straw to let the liquid run into her mouth. Repeat the process until your child grasps the concept of the liquid coming from the straw.
Let your child practice closing her lips around the straw a few times. When she has the hang of this, instruct her to suck. As soon as she does this, remove your fingertip to release the liquid. Keep doing it to help her get the hang of continuous sipping.
Keep practicing until your child can confidently suck the straw to get liquid. Progress to a regular straw when she is ready. Be patient and give her plenty of praise and encouragement.