The Toys and Their Functions
Before the therapy starts, an evaluation of the patients oral motor structures is usually done. This is where the therapist inspects the various structures that are inside and around the patients mouth that are used for speech. Some of these are the lips, tongue, teeth, jaw and cheeks.
For the structures to be seen more accurately, a penlight is usually used. The only problem with it is that the child may not find it very pleasant to have a flashlight in his mouth. This is now why there already is the colorful and jelly-like oral light system, which gives the same amount of light minus the metallic appearance.
The examination of these muscles also usually requires gloves and tongue depressors; in which kids do not appreciate both of whose smell and taste. This is now the reason why colorful and fruit flavored gloves and tongue depressors are already available.
After the said oral motor examination has been performed, the therapist may find a weakening in one or some of the structures. Some seemingly ordinary materials and toys may aid the strengthening of these muscles. One of them is the straw, which can come in all colors and designs. It serves two purposes.
The first purpose is for the rounding of the lips. This activity is important for the articulation of vowels and the semi-vowel /w/. Another function is the act of sipping. In this activity, the velum, the muscle right above the throat is exercised. This muscle is used when producing vowels and back consonants like /k/ and /g/.
Another commonly used material is a toy, which has to be blown. An example would be the whistle. The whistle is considered a difficult blow toy. It means that among the toys that work when blown, it is one of those, which requires more effort for it to perform its function.
The whistle, like the straw, aids in the exercise of the muscles of the lips. Another structure, which it strengthens, is the cheeks. It maximizes the capacity of the cheeks to hold in air and to gradually blow it out.
Other materials that are more commonly used are picture cards and interactive books. They usually contain pictures of words, which represent all the speech sounds. When these cards are used, all the therapist has to do is to show the picture and have the child produce the word together with the speech sound within the word.
If the patient sees the materials they have for therapy are colorful and fun toys, he will come to think that the reason he is in the clinic is to play and have fun. And having the child thinking this, will allow the child to cooperate with the therapist.
Play is a universal activity that blends social, cognitive, linguistic, emotional, and motor components. It is an integration of the many aspects of a child. Play serves as a representation of the thoughts and abilities of a child. Through play, the therapist will be able to know how to approach the concerns of his patient.