What is oral motor therapy?
Oral motor therapy works on the oral skills necessary for proper speech and feeding development. For example, try saying “la la la” right now, paying attention to what your tongue is doing. In order to produce the /l/ sound, the tongue tip must elevate to the alveolar ridge (just behind the upper front teeth). It must also be able to function independently – or dissociate – from the jaw. Oral motor therapy works on these “pre-requisites” for speech and feeding.
Why is oral motor therapy important?
Think about yoga. In order to get a pose right, several muscle groups must be working together in a delicate balance of strength, coordination, movement, and endurance. Speech and feeding are very much the same, only localized to the muscles of the lips, tongue, jaw, and cheeks. In order to properly articulate sounds and manage food, the mouth muscles need to be in very specific “poses.” For example, try drinking from a straw right now and pay attention to what your mouth is doing – your lips should be pursed and closed around the straw, the tongue tense and retracted, and the cheeks taut. Most people naturally learn how to do this on their own. But some individuals (particularly those with developmental delays) need oral motor therapy to learn those skills.
Where does the Z-Vibe come in?
Most people are either visual or auditory learners. Sometimes, however, these two senses are not enough, and we must look to the sense of touch. Imagine you’re in a yoga class again. You’ve heard the instructor explain a pose, you’ve seen her demonstrate it, but it’s just not clicking for you. So the instructor comes over and adjusts your arm into in the right position. Similarly, sometimes you need to physically show an individual where the tongue should go for this sound, that skill, etc. This is called giving them a tactile cue. The Z-Vibe is a tool to help you provide targeted tactile cues within the oral cavity without getting your fingers in harm’s way. It also takes tactile learning to the next level with the added bonus of vibration. The gentle vibration of the Z-Vibe provides added sensory stimulation to increase oral focus and draw more attention to the articulators.
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