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At-Home Oral-Motor Exercises for Special Kids

Oral-motor exercises strengthen and build coordination in the lips, cheeks, tongue and jaw. These four areas are vital for proper speech, chewing and swallowing; oral-motor exercises can also provide tactile stimulation to reduce oral defensiveness.

Your child's therapist will use professional oral-motor exercises on a regular basis. Here we've compiled a few supplemental at-home exercises. We recommend using these techniques regularly by incorporating them into a daily routine of activities. Using a mirror will allow your child to visualize his or her actions.

Lips & Cheeks
Targets speech sounds

  • Blow bubbles, a kazoo or another instrument
  • Hum a tune
  • Drink through a straw
  • Smile, relax repeat
  • Repeat basic sounds such as ba-ba-ba
  • Give air kisses
  • Puff out the cheeks
  • Say "o", hold, repeat
  • Suck in the cheeks to make fish lips
  • Make the mouth wide and then small

Targets speech sounds

  • Click the tongue
  • Blow raspberries
  • Stick out the tongue to touch an object or a tasty treat


  • Use Grabbers or Y-Chews to practice holding and releasing
  • Practice with front teeth and back

Build coordination with the following activities:

  • Say tongue twisters*
  • Make "puh" and "tuh" sounds fast and slowly
  • Trace the lips with the tongue
  • Touch individual teeth with the tongue
  • Repeat consonant-vowel combinations (ba, ta, ga, pa, ka)
  • Repeat lalala

Incorporating Foods

Foods can encourage children, as well as expose adverse children to new textures.

  • Place peanut butter on the roof of the mouth or inside cheeks
  • Drink thin and thick liquids through a straw
  • Use lollipops to practice tongue extension, tongue depression and lip strength
  • Incorporate hard and crunchy foods such as celery or carrots or into the everyday diet
  • Incorporate chewy foods such as jerky or dried mango

The Z-Grabber

The Z-Vibe is a versatile tool that can be incorporated in a variety of oral-motor exercises.

  • Normalize oral sensations in and around the mouth in hypersensitive individuals
  • Increase lip, tongue and cheek awareness in hypo-sensitive individuals
  • Provide targeted tactile cues within the mouth, when giving a verbal cue is not enough
  • Provide a calming sensory experience

*Our Favorite Simple Tongue Twisters

1. Toy Boat
2. Lovely Lemon
3. Ba Da Ga Da
4. Purple Paper
5. Rubber Baby