How does Oral Placement Therapy help Special Need Kids
Oral Placement Therapy refers to a speech therapy which utilizes a combination of auditory, visual and tactile stimulation to the mouth, to improve speech clarity. This is an important addition to traditional speech treatment methods for those who have placement and movement deficits.
OPT is a tactile-proprioceptive teaching technique, which accompanies traditional therapy. The latter is primarily auditory and visual. Children with special needs such as those with Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, ASD, ADHD, or those with motor and/or sensory impairments benefit from tactile and proprioceptive components. This is because speech is a tactile-proprioceptive act. OPT can also help improve articular awareness, placement, stability, and muscle memory; all of which are necessary for speech clarity.
How does it Work?
OPT teaches oral structural placement to those who cannot produce or imitate speech sounds using traditional auditory or visual input. It is important to expand speech or sound production from phonemes and other similar oral movements that the child can already produce. Once they are able to produce a targeted speech sound using traditional auditory or visual input, speech therapy can progress more easily.
Tools used in OPT
These are some of the tools that are used for Oral Placement Therapy, some of which are also available on Help Them Shine:
Chewy Tubes: These are innovative tools, designed to develop biting and chewing skills. They are made up of a Thermo-elastic polymer. The Yellow Chewy tubes are mostly used with infants and younger kids who have smaller jaws. The Red Chewy tubes are suitable for toddlers, older children, and adults or with individuals who need a smooth surface for practicing biting and chewing skills.
Z Vibe: This is a vibratory oral motor tool that can help build oral tone and improve a variety of speech, feeding and sensory skills. You can use it to provide sensory experience and/or to provide targeted tactile cues within the oral cavity.
Jaw Grading Bite Blocks: This tool is used in several activities, including “Bite Block hierarchy.” Jaw Grading Bite Blocks promote symmetrical jaw strength, stability, and grading for clients with weak jaw musculature evidenced during speech sound production or feeding.
Straws: Straws are great for OPT. They promote jaw-lip-tongue dissociation through twelve stages of development. They can also be used to teach tongue retraction, grading, controlled tongue movements, and lip rounding among other oral-motor skills.
Oral Placement Therapy is a small part of speech and language program and should not be done in isolation. The activities in this therapy are carefully selected to stimulate the same movements used in the targeted speech production. They can be completed in under 15 minutes and can be used to refocus attention and concentration from a sensory processing perspective.