Oral motor therapy works on the oral skills like awareness, strength, coordination, movement and stamina of the lips, cheeks, tongue, and jaw, which are necessary for proper speech and oral capacity development. It is vital to have sturdy, strong and mobile articulators for strong oral communication.
Oral Motor Exercises are non-speech activities that involve sensory stimulation to improve speech or actions of the lips, tongue, jaws larynx, palate and respiratory muscles. Developing oral motor skills includes teaching the child to move his oral motor muscles in the right way and this primarily aims to make the child talk clearly and fluently.
The speech pathologist together with the help of teachers and parents can create a plan personalised for the child. The plan may be used to work directly on speech and sound production.
The objective of oral motor exercises include.
- Growing the range, accuracy and rate of articulator movements.
- Enhances the child’s voluntary control of oral movements.
- Heightens the child’s awareness about oral structures.
- Encourages children to participate in therapy.
Below given are some of the activities that work on oral motor skills:
- The ability to blow whistle is essential for sound creation. Use whistle straws for blowing, and sucking. These skills help to create the vowel sounds. Also, the straw can be used to blow various sized pom poms. The larger the pom poms, the harder it is to blow.
- For the child to learn to coordinate their lips, cheeks, and jaw, bubble blowing is a good activity. It helps the child to regulate the airflow necessary for speech production. Blowing bubbles can target many speech sounds such as n, a, p, z, t and f.
- Gum massage is a useful way to provide oral stimulation.
- Use mirror for visual feedback.
- Using an echo microphone can be used to improve tongue altitude and tongue range of motion as well as sequencing speech sounds and words together.
- You can also work on sequencing consonant and vowel combinations, such as ta, pa, ka or work on saying two syllables together such as mama, papa, and kaka. After the previous exercises, you can move on to practicing two syllable words, such as ‘corn flour’, ‘birthday’ and baseball.
- You can sing a favourite song for fun.
- Press your lips to make a kiss and then slide the kiss sideways.
- Use the Z-Vibe for additional tactile input and oral sensory stimulation.
- Puff out the cheeks and seal the lips. Relax and repeat again.
- Repeat the words ‘buttercup’ or ‘rocket ship’ 5 times in a row to improve coordination.
- Rotate the tongue inside the mouth and trace the borders of your lips.
- Say ‘ooo’, ‘eeee’ or ‘oo-ee’ with exaggerated movement of lips and repeat till necessary.
Make a list of the activities and the progress. Increased speech output, increased speech sound variety and improved speech clarity are the many benefits of playing oral motor games with young children.