Improving oral sensory-motor skills are essential for developing speech in children. Some children with autism might display either oral sensory issue (hypersensitive or hyposensitive) or oral motor issue or both.
The signs of the oral sensory issues may include:
In Oral hypersensitivity:
- Avoid certain food due to its texture, taste and/or temperature.
- Dislikes brushing.
- Exhibits gag reflex.
In Oral hyposensitivity:
- Licking objects, own hands or fingers.
- Chew and/or bit objects like pencil, toys, clothes, etc.
- Prefer mouth full of food.
- Prefers hot food than cold.
- Grind their own teeth.
Signs of the oral motor issues may include:
- Inefficient chewing.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Lack of tongue movement.
- Sometimes while eating they may cough or choke.
- Reduced intake of food.
Let’s find some interesting activities that would help the children:
- Provide chewy and crunchy foods like carrot, apple, cucumber, etc.
- Provide chew tubes.
- Use a straw to drink juice, yoghurt, smoothies, milkshakes, etc.
- Use sipper to drink water.
- Apply honey (or any edible items of child’s interest) to the corners of the mouth and below and above the lips, in an attempt to lick the applied honey, the child’s tongue movement is enhanced.
- Provide vibrating toothbrush.
- Blowing activity.
- Blowing bubbles
- Blow painting
- Blow whistle
- Blow candles
- Blow balloons
- Blowing small thermocol balls, pom-poms or cotton balls into a hole
- Physical activities like animal walking, carrying a heavy basket, climbing ladder, etc., would provide proprioceptive input which satisfies their needs.
- Blow the balloon game.
- Extra and intraoral massage.
- This is a desensitization technique performed by an Occupational Therapist and Speech Therapist. This can also be by the parents after thoroughly learned from either of the professionals.