Using Chew Tools in Oral Motor / Feeding Therapy

30th Jul 2017

Most people know the GrabberY-Chew, and Guitar as non-food chewing tools that provide a safe alternative to nail biting, chewing on pencils, etc.  

But did you know they can also be used to work on lots of different oral motor / feeding therapy goals? 

.

Oral Motor Exercises for ARK's Grabber, Y-Chew, and/or Guitar

.

Here are some of our favorite ways to incorporate the Grabber, Y-Chew, and/or Guitar into your oral motor / feeding therapy sessions:

  • Dip the chew tool in puréed foods (yogurt, applesauce, baby foods, etc.) and let the individual bite/chew/mouth/lick it.  This is a great way to spark interest in the chew tools.  For individuals who have not progressed to solid foods yet, it's also a safe way to practice biting/chewing in preparation for solid foods.
  • Encourage individuals to chew on all parts of the chew tools.  Most people tend to gravitate to chewing on the extensions with their back molars.  Which is great!  The back molars are where we do most of our chewing.  But it's also beneficial to chew on the loop (of the Grabber or Guitar) for bilateral chewing practice. 
  • All of these chew tools come in 3 color-coded toughness levels.  For individuals with low oral tone:  start with the standard (softest) options, then progress to the tougher XT level and eventually (if necessary) the toughest XXT level.  This hierarchy will help gradually exercise the mouth muscles over time, as each level provides more resistance and is harder to chew.
  • For individuals with sensory issues and/or food aversions:  start with the smooth Grabbers and progress to the Textured Grabbers to help gradually introduce new textures and desensitize the mouth.
  • For jaw strength and stability: place the stem in between the pre-molars. Have the individual bite down and hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat several times on both sides of the mouth. To increase the difficulty, gently tug the chew tool as the individual holds it in place. Be careful not to tug too hard, and do not let the individual jerk his/her head.
  • To increase tongue mobility and lateralization: place the stem in the corner of the lips. Instruct the individual to touch it with the tip of the tongue. Repeat in the opposite corner, then alternate sides.

.

For many more exercise ideas for the Grabber / Y-Chew / Guitar, click on the related topics below:

Biting & Chewing - Teach the Concept

Rotary Chewing

Rhythmic Chewing

Lip Closure

Jaw Strength & Stability

Jaw Grading & Stability

Tongue Pops

.