Find out why patients and colleagues have trusted me with assessment and treatment of feeding, oral motor, and orofacial myofunctional disorders for over two decades.
It has been my privilege and pleasure over the years to work with Robyn Merkel Walsh, whom I consider at the top in her specialty as a speech pathologist and Certified Orofacial Myologist®️.
She is a nationally recognized leader, a prolific author and tireless lecturer, and has helped to develop this rapidly emerging field .
Clinically, she is an astute diagnostician, with evaluations that are accurate, comprehensive and detail oriented. Her therapeutic interventions are focused and highly beneficial to her patients.
She has my highest praise and professional support.
Anthony Jahn, MD, FACS, FRCS (C), Clinical Professor of Otolaryngology, Mt. Sinai
As a first time parent, of course you’re constantly second guessing yourself and wondering if you’re doing everything right. When our son was born 9 years ago, everything seemed to be going smoothly and normally. We introduced purees around 6 months and he did fine. But he was just not interested in anything beyond purees – no puffs, no yogurt melts, no baby cookies, not even bananas. His pediatrician said he was likely just picky. He was growing normally with his purees and formula, so we took her word for it and just continued to offer him different foods to try, which he always refused.
By 18 months his pediatrician was still saying he was just picky, give him time, etc. And we as new parents trusted what we were being told. By age 2, I told her this is not normal, he’s still eating baby food purees and although he never used a pacifier beyond 2 or 3 months, he refused to give up his bottles as well. It was then that she suggested having him evaluated by a feeding therapist. I posted on a local moms page asking for recommendations, and a few suggested Robyn Walsh in Ridgefield. I gave her a call and before I knew it, we had his evaluation scheduled. We met, she evaluated, wrote up her report and suggested the course of action.
For the next three years, I brought my son to “Ms. Robyn” as she affectionately came to be known, weekly. We had an entire case of therapy tools that she worked with him with at each session. We slowly introduced solid foods in the tiniest bits. We worked with him every day at home, and continued to see Ms. Robyn once a week. I was a nervous wreck when it came time for Kindergarten. I couldn’t send him in with baby food as lunch. So I always packed him the foods we had tried in our therapy sessions, and nearly all of it would come home at the end of the day. Sometime between pre-K and Kindergarten he did start eating little tiny bits of things like American cheese, hot dogs, etc. And then, it happened. The switch flipped. At a school sponsored PJ Movie Night on a Friday in December during Kindergarten, he was sitting with his friends EATING GOLDFISH CRACKERS. He showed off his new skills to Ms. Robyn at our next session. By January after the holiday break, I was able to order him some of the school lunch offerings each week that he said he might like to try. I still remember he first time we went to a restaurant and I didn’t have to bring his food with me because he ordered off of the kids’ menu. Now going on vacations, I didn’t have to pack a huge bag full of his purees and pouches! We had a few more sessions with Robyn that summer after Kindergarten to wind down, and he officially graduated. By first grade I was filling out the school lunch order forms for a month at a time! He was trying new things every day at school (but always pizza, his favorite, on Fridays!). I kept in touch with Robyn and have often joked that I’m going to send her my grocery bills, because the kid who wouldn’t eat now has the appetite of a teenager. He loves things that every elementary school kid SHOULD love – mac and cheese, burgers, meatballs, hot dogs, chips (of course!), and even foods like strawberries, watermelon, grapes, and sautéed broccoli. He even tried calamari at a baptism party, and just the other night asked to try some of my salmon and avocado sushi rolls!
The cherry on top was when my family went to Disney World in December 2021. One of our dining reservations was at the 50s Prime Time Café. As Robyn and I have kept in touch well after my son was done with therapy, especially when it comes to sharing his eating milestones and our mutual love of all things Disney, I had to text her right from the restaurant in the middle of my vacation with a photo. In the photo, my son who wouldn’t eat just a few short years earlier was proudly holding up his “Clean Plate Award” sticker that the server had given him for finishing his entire meal.
Robyn’s patience and steady work with my son is truly what helped him turn the corner with his eating. I cannot thank her enough for all of the work that she has done with us for our son, and I’ll continue sharing with her each time he tries something new, because we are both incredibly proud of how far he has come.
Feeding Success Story
My 5 year old daughter is non-verbal and autistic. When we first started seeing Robyn in 2021, she had significant feeding issues. She could only eat pureed foods that were cooked at home. I had spoken to a few different feeding therapists, but none seemed to have the expertise to address the root cause of my daughter's feeding issues.
Thanks to Robyn's oral motor and feeding therapy, my daughter is now eating a broad range of adult foods that are cooked both at home and at restaurants. We took our daughter to a sit-down lunch with us during the holiday break and she was able to eat restaurant food with no problems. This is an accomplishment that would not have been possible without Robyn's oral motor and feeding therapy.
What sets Robyn apart are:
Experience and expertise: Robyn is significantly more experienced and has a depth of knowledge that is beyond the majority of other feeding therapists I have spoken to in NY and NJ.
Parent Coaching: Our therapy started during the pandemic, so we were virtual. Through the virtual sessions Robyn taught me how to practice the oral motor therapy with my daughter. This has contributed to my daughter's success because the more I can practice with her, the better she does. In addition, Robyn has always given me feedback on areas that I need to improve or change to better support my daughter's development. I am a better parent to my daughter thanks to Robyn's feedback and coaching.
Customization: Robyn problem-solves and develops approaches that are customized to each child. Having dealt with many therapists over the years, I know how important this is. Many are just applying textbook techniques that they don't know how to adjust when the child doesn't respond. You can see Robyn's years of experience at work when she problem-solves challenges or issues. Robyn always finds a way!
I recommend Robyn to any parent that is looking to help their child improve oral motor skills, whether that be in support of speech or feeding.
Feeding Success Story
I will always be very grateful for the day I came across one of Robyn's posts on a Facebook group last summer. Taking our almost 5 year old to her for an evaluation has been one of the most pivotal moments in our journey. She gave us her diagnostic impressions and steered us towards a number of specialists to inquire further. After meeting them all and forming an amazing team of specialists that actually talk to each other, we are finally on a path that is working and we see great improvements in our kid. So, thank you, Robyn!
Mother of child with TOTS and multiple developmental issues
In addition to being a leader in the field of oral motor therapy Robyn has a passion for her work and is deeply committed to her patients. Robyn has worked diligently to understand the needs of our non-verbal and autistic son; she developed and executed a plan specific to him. A great deal of our son's progress in communication is due to Robyn's efforts. We would recommend her to any parent whose child is struggling with speech or oral motor skills.
Parent of Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder and TOTs
We were very fortunate to have worked with Robyn Merkel-Walsh for so many years. My son, a person with Autism, Dysarthria, and motor planning deficits – including Apraxia – really required the jaw strengthening and stability provided by Oral Placement Therapy (OPT). The OPT tools and exercises provided the proper “imposing and teaching of the motor plan” required for my son to learn how to place his lips/mouth in the right position to produce given sounds. Robyn’s “noisy stories” were fun, and taught my son to imitate her facial/oral postures to make simple sounds and words. Techniques taught to me, such as playing a motivating game with play food and talking about “making a sandwich” with my son, helped me to teach him and reinforce words and simple sentences first practiced in the office. Her work provided the foundation for improved speech and communication practices that we carry on to this day.
Parent of Son with Autism
If your child has any oral motor or feeding issue you've come to the right place. Robyn knows absolutely everything there is to know about this field because she literally helped develop it! Robyn has countless good ideas and recommendations and she really cares about the kids she treats.
Parent of a toddler with TOTs, speech and feeding issues
Working with Robyn has been a game changer for my 4-year old son with autism, as well as TOTs, feeding issues, sensory issues and apraxia. When we came to her a little over a year ago, my son was barely able to form any sounds and had an aversion to most food textures. As a result of our work with Robyn, my son's ability to form sounds has really taken off, and his tolerance for various foods has increased dramatically. Given that his challenges are behavioral in addition to neurological and sensory, Robyn's understanding of and respect for behavioral therapy approaches has been critical to my son's continued success.
Robyn has also helped tremendously with my 12-year old son, who is on the spectrum, has TOTs and stammers. After seeing what Robyn was accomplishing with my younger son, we had her evaluate my older son and are so glad I did. The exercises we do with him have made a huge difference -- eating is now a lot less of a challenge, and the tongue placement skills he's gained have had such a positive impact on his speech fluency. I've also been amazed how well Robyn is able to tailor her approach to the very different ages, needs and abilities of my two kids.
As a parent, I've been so grateful for what I have learned from Robyn about ways to foster oral motor function development in both my boys in between therapy sessions. I've come to know well that so much in this area is not intuitive, so I am incredibly thankful to have a professional like Robyn on our team.
Parent of two children with ASD , TOTs and oral motor/myo issues
I don’t have enough words of praise about Robyn!
I have had the great and distinct honor to be able to work closely with Robyn over many years in treating patients, lecturing, and publishing in her text book.
Robyn is one of the most highly regarded of my ‘mentors.’
Robyn continues on a never ending quest to educate parents and professionals while at the same time caring for her patients as if they are her own children.
Robyn is responsible for increasing my knowledge and understanding the complex functional components of Tethered Oral Tissues. Robyn has had a very strong influence in my surgical approach in the treatment in these issues from start to finish.
Scott Siegel, MD, DDS, FACS, SICS, FAAP, TOTs Specialist, NYC
Attended your course yesterday. I experienced in my own practice everything your described regarding the link between tongue thrust and articulation deficits. And I was blown away by the same link between tongue tie and articulation. I could see it in my own patients and I didn’t know there was so much research to support this theory (at least I thought it was a theory). Incredible. So grateful for your work. So grateful for the knowledge you gave us yesterday. You confirmed what I always thought was going on with my speech kids but could never adequately identify. You and Lori have now added yet another armor to my approach with articulation impairments and beyond.
TOTs Assessment Course Attendee