Do you have difficulty understanding your child’s speech? Does your child avoid certain foods or choke during meals? Does you child drool? If so, OPT can help.
Can an SLP Help?
If your child is having difficulty producing certain speech sounds or you have noticed that others have difficulty understanding what your child is saying, seeking out a speech and language assessment with a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) is the place to start.
Similarly, if your child has challenges eating, chewing, and/or swallowing food an SLP can help. One of the recommendations that might be made for your child is to implement Oral Placement Therapy (OPT).
OPT is a unique oral-motor therapy approach developed by Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson. This therapy approach is used by SLPs to target specific oral-motor movements to enhance speech clarity and feeding.
It is one piece of a comprehensive speech and language program that can be developed for your child.
What does Oral Placement Therapy consist of?
OPT consists of a variety of tools and exercises that can build specific muscles and enhance motor movements for speech production.
This therapy approach allows the child to feel the movements necessary to produce the speech sounds that are difficult for them in addition to hearing and seeing how the sound is produced.
The activities are designed to be fun and motivating for children to complete both with their SLP and at home.
A very common example is children who have reduced lip strength leading to limited lip rounding/protrusion or lip closure for speech production.
These children may have difficulty drinking from a straw or blowing out candles or they may drool.
Lip rounding is an essential movement to accurately produce sounds such as “w” in “water,” “sh” in “shoe,” and the “oo” vowel as in “move.”
If your child has weak lip rounding it may cause their speech to be difficult to understand.
Playing and bubbles
To improve a child’s production of sounds that require lip rounding, bubbles are a frequently used OPT technique.
Children are taught a very specific sequence of steps to give them the ability to produce the motor movements to independently blow bubbles. When accurate motor movements are achieved these skills are transferred immediately into speech practice.
What could be more fun than time spent playing and blowing bubbles to improve your child’s speech clarity?
Another example of a very common and very beneficial OPT activity is gum chewing.
Who would have guessed that you may seek the advice of an SLP and one of the recommendations will be to chew gum? OPT incorporates a very structured approach to gum chewing to help address jaw, lip, and tongue functioning.
This technique can have very beneficial effects for speech production, to reduce drooling, and to help your child chew and swallow food safely.
Successful treatment approach
OPT is a treatment approach that has been used successfully with a variety of populations including children with reduced speech clarity, children with Downs Syndrome, children with Cerebral Palsy, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and children with feeding and swallowing challenges.