Oral Placement Therapy

Oral Placement Therapy

Oral therapy is form of speech therapy that focuses auditory, visual and tactile stimulation of the mouth in order the muscles to move correctly for optimal speech clarity.


It is typically administered to children between the ages of 2-5, however it can be useful for people of any age having difficulty speaking clearly. OPT can be used to improve articulator awareness, stability, muscle memory and placement (dissociation, grading, and direction of movement); all of which are necessary for optimal speech clarity development.

OPT Treatments

Oral placement therapy is commonly employed to help to treat all manner of speech disorders including apraxia (brain disorder causing speech problems), dysarthria (weak muscles used for speech), fluency and articulation disorders, post cerebrovascular accident CVA patients, as well as those with mild-to-severe hearing loss.

Those suffering with motor and/or sensory impairments can benefit from oral placement therapy. It can also be combined with other common therapies to maximize treatment results.

OPT Alternative Speech Therapy

Oral placement therapy often works great where other, more traditional speech therapy treatments have failed. This is typically due to these treatments not taking into consideration any movement or placement disorders, which when present, renders standard remedies almost useless. Instead OPT focuses on the exact characteristics that speech therapy leaves out, the movement aspect of these disorders.

By training the facial muscles to become more familiar with the movements required to speech and eat without issue, OTP can produce more effective results in a much shorter time frame.

oral placement therapy z-vibe

OPT 3-Stage Treatments

The treatment itself is carried out in three stages.

Stage 1: Z-Vibe

The first utilizes a tool known as Z-Vibe, a tooth-brush-like therapeutic tool featuring various different textures and surfaces that, when swabbed around the mouth so the child becomes more familiar with sensations that may feel awkward and uncomfortable to them. The Z-Vibe works by triggering, exercising, and thus familiarizing the senses with certain stimuli.

  • oral defensiveness: oral defensiveness is an aversive response to touch in and around the mouth, which can lead to a highly uncomfortable sensory response when experiencing such
  • texture aversion: in a similar manner to oral defensiveness, children can also so averse reactions to certain textures
  • overstuffing: children with decreased oral awareness can not clearly feel what is going on inside their mouths; this can lead to overstuffing and/or pocketing food
  • self-regulation: some children are known as oral sensory seekers, which means they seek comfort in putting things in their mouths and chewing on objects

The Z-Vibe tool essentially trains a child’s brain to recognize and become comfortable with all these sensation that cause them stress and discomfort.

Stage 2: Chewy Tube

The second stage of the treatment utilizes a tool called “chewy tubes.” Another device is placed in the mouth. However, instead of performing swabbing motions, the child is asked to bite down on the tube in a series of motions guided by the physician.

Chewy tubes can help oral placement therapy patients in several ways, including:

  • Practice biting and chewing
  • Build up jaw strength
  • Redirect chewing other objects
  • Reduce anxiety

Stage 3: Party Whistle Blower

This stage is performed to strengthen the cheek muscles and the muscles around the mouth and lips. The exercise helps the child better control their movements and simultaneously increases lung capacity, which in turn helps to improve the movements required for speech and eating.

The exercise can be performed with a simple party horn, a toy whistle that unrolls a paper horn when blown. The child again performs a series of motions guided by the physician, in this case, to open and close the party horn.

Although all three stages sound extremely simple, they do require special guidance from a professional. So, whilst it may seem inviting to attempt to administer these treatments without professional guidance, it’s highly advisable not to since you could just as easily be training incorrect movements, which may not only set you back it can also teach bad habits that are hard to shake and, in some cases, may even cause long-lasting harm.

In Conclusion

If you’re looking to help your child progress in their speech abilities, but traditional speech therapies do not seem to produce results you and your child were hoping for, then it might be time to try oral placement therapy. This alternative approach has been shown to have a high rate of success, and since the therapies do not involve any harmful medications, and therefore have little risk of triggering adverse side effects, OPT could be a highly attractive solution depending on your family’s particular situation.

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