What's In YOUR Oral-Motor Toolkit?
Today I would like to share the tools I arm myself with before attempting oral-motor therapy with children below the age of three. Not always an easy task!!
Oral-motor work can often be quite daunting for all involved—therapist, parent and child! It is invasive and if the child is orally defensive, you can really have your work cut out for you! I do have a few trusty tools that I feel work well and I am always looking for new ways to do oral motor therapy, so please share your ideas as well!
Here is my Oral-Motor Toolkit:
- Mirror—allows the child to have visual feedback of their own oral musculature. If you use a large mirror you and/or the parent can sit side-by-side with the child and demonstrate oral motor movements.
- Lotion—use lotion on the child's face—cheeks, chin and above their upper lip—to increase strength, mobility and awareness of the oral musculature. If the child will allow it, I try to do hand over hand so that they are massaging their own face.
- Handheld Back Massagers—I use the massagers similar to how I use the lotion. The vibration offers stimulation on the oral muscles to help increase awareness, strength and mobility. I like to use fun words like, "zoom!" and sing songs when I use lotion, the massagers, etc. to make it fun and engaging.
- Nuk—I use the nuk mainly for children with feeding goals. Depending on the child's food sensitivities, I use the nuk to present food, as well as use food to present the nuk! Great way to massage the inside of the child's mouth and stimulate the muscles of the tongue, lips and inner cheeks.
- Chew tube and chew cord—Both offer great ways to strengthen a child's bite and chew.
- Whistles and whistle-activated toys—great way to improve a child's motor planning skills and achieve an appropriate lip seal.
- Bubbles, Cotton Balls, Feathers, Pinwheels, etc.—light items that will visually move by blowing on them! These items are fun for kids and offer immediate feedback when they apply air to the items correctly. I also use a straw for the child to blow cotton balls, etc. to challenge them.
- Pictures—I have an array of oral motor picture cards that I use to help demonstrate for the child the movements they need to practice.
- Electric Toothbrush—I encourage parents to use an electric toothbrush with their child to offer oral stimulation 2-3 times a day. Many of the children I work with fight against having their teeth brushed and sometimes using an electric brush offers the sensory feedback they are craving.
Please share the tools in YOUR oral-motor kit!