Question: Could you please tell me what purpose vibration serves when working on oral motor tasks, as well as whether or not it is a required element for children to make oral motor gains?
Great question! Sometimes just touching the lips, tongue, cheeks, etc. doesn't provide enough input. Vibration offers a new level of tactile awareness for individuals who need additional sensory feedback.
I always recommend that the Z-Vibe (or Z-Grabber) be used without vibration at first. That may be enough for your child. For example, when working with a 4-year-old recently, I used the Z-Vibe without vibration first. When I saw that he couldn't close his lips together around the tip, I turned it on to vibrate. In response to the added stimulation and awareness, he closed his lips!
It should be noted, however, that some individuals absolutely do not like vibration in their mouths. The mouth is a very sensitive part of the body. By no means does an individual HAVE to use vibration to acquire skills for feeding and articulation. Even without vibration, the Z-Vibe can still provide tactile input to the cheeks, lips, etc. and help direct the articulators to where they need to be.
All my best,
Debra C. Lowsky, MS, CCC-SLP