Oral Motor Tool Kit

By Pam Marshalla

Q: Do you have any recommendations or suggestions for building a basic oral motor therapy kit?

There are literally thousands of objects one could use as an aid to oral movement in articulation therapy. I call them “the toys and tools of articulation training.”

Charles Van Riper called them “phonetic placement devices” and wrote:

“Every available device should be used to make the student understand clearly what positions of tongue, jaw, and lips are to be assumed” (Van Riper, 1954).

If I had to build an oral motor kit with as few tools as possible, I would construct it with the following simple set:

  1. Straws of various sizes: To bite on to stabilize the jaw; And to place in front of the teeth in order to monitor the size, shape, and direction of the central airstream.
  2. Siren or spirometer: To discover and practice inhaling, exhaling, and aspects of exhaling.
  3. Kazoo: To discover and practice voice and its aspects – projection, prolongation, and so forth.
  4. Nuk Oral Massagers: To provide tactile stimulation to the lips, tongue, palate, and velum; To stimulate chewing movements; To bite on the handle for a low jaw (wide mouth) position.
  5. A Tongue Cleaner (Scraper): In order to teach the tongue to curl up and back and to increase tension in the tongue.

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