Using a kazoo to strenghten mouth muscles
As children first learn to speak, we are always charmed by their mispronunciations of certain words.
Should those inconsistencies continue, for instance instead of saying “broken” the child says “boken” and is not easily understood, there might be a developing phonological disorder. This disorder can range from mild to being completely incomprehensible. The goal of therapy is to provide the child with complete speech clarity.
The first step is to provide a sense of accomplishment for the child. Simple sounds are practiced until the child masters clarity. Oral play–just making silly sounds–also helps the child to adjust to the new idea of speech therapy. The next step might be oral motor exercises. This modality brings out the smiles and giggles. These exercises include blowing bubbles, blowing a harmonica or trying out a kazoo. Blowing cotton balls amazes children. All of these are designed to strengthen breath control and lip strength.
Isometric exercises are not just for adults. They can be invaluable for increasing muscle strength. Tongue presses can be done by having the child stick out his tongue, pushing a spoon against the tongue tip and the child pushing as hard as possible against the spoon five times. It works best if a second person is holding the spoon.
Peanut butter is not just for sandwiches. Rub some peanut butter on the child’s lips from corner to corner. The child must then be able to lick from side to side until all of it disappears. This exercise makes the tongue work hard. Or there is also the ice cream drip; she can only use her–tongue no lips. Cheerios are a serious challenge when they have to be picked up by the tongue only. Rolling a lollipop from one side of the mouth to another also strengthens tongue muscles.
A handheld mirror also works well to help the child see form the words as well as reinforce sound and mouth movement. While using the mirror, another therapeutic idea is to make silly faces.
Have the child bring in a favorite stuffed animal from home. Using simple sounds, have the child “model” these sounds for her animal.