Is Vibration Necessary for Oral Motor Therapy?

Posted by Debra C. Lowsky, MS, CCC-SLP on 28th Mar 2013

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!

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Is Vibration Necessary for Oral Motor Therapy?

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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. 

I commend you both for being investigative parents when it comes to your children.  Please let me know if you have any other questions!  You can also find a list of oral motor exercises here and here.

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All my best,

Debbie

Debra C. Lowsky, MS, CCC-SLP

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