Category Archives: Oral Motor

RAPPER SNAPPERS AKA POP TUBES in purple, red, green, and blue

Therapy Activities On A Budget: Rapper Snappers

Rapper Snappers are a multi functional therapy tool perfect for creating fun, budget friendly therapy activities! In this post, Physical Therapist and creator of the ABCs of Movement, Laurie Gombash, PT, M.Ed, shared five different ways to use Rapper Snappers (also known as Pop Tubes) as a therapeutic tool.  Be sure to check out her video below!

Demonstration of rapper snapper activity:  pulling a pink rapper snapper open

Arm Strengthening

Place hands on either end of the Rapper Snapper and pull! Work with the arms overhead to target shoulder strength or work with arms away from the body to target core strength. Target different muscles of the upper body  by pulling in different directions. Try holding the rapper snapper in one hand, at hip level, and using the other hand to pull up and across the body. Alternatively, hold the rapper snapper at shoulder level and uses the other hand to pull down and across the body.

Pro Tip, using the fingers to scrunch the Rapper Snapper back to size is great for finger strengthening!

Self Regulation

Rapper Snappers are a fun way to learn about self regulation.  Help kids visualize concepts like fast breathing or rapid heart beat by opening and closing the Rapper Snapper rapidly. Alternatively, demonstrate slow or rhythmic breathing by slowly pulling apart  or closing the rapper snapper.

Pro Tip, the sound made by the Rapper Snappers as it is opening and closing provides great auditory feedback!

Demonstration of rapper snapper activity:  squeezing a pink rapper snapper closed

Fine Motor & Motor Planning 

Looking for a fun and engaging activity? Use Rapper Snappers to make a marble run!  Bend and twist the Rapper Snapper to make a maze, drop the marble in, and let it run through.  Using two or three fingers to grasp the marble and inserting it into the Rapper Snapper’s narrow opening is a great way to get the small muscles in the hand working.  Planning a successful maze for the marble to run through takes planning abilities!

Pro Tip: This activity can be done holding the Rapper Snapper and moving the marble through or you can use Velcro or other adhesives to adhere Rapper Snappers to a wall or other vertical surface. 

Demonstration of rapper snapper activity:  blowing into a pink rapper snapper

Oral Motor

Shape the Rapper Snapper like a smile and try to imitate it with your lips, now flip it upside down to make a frown!  Purse your lips, give a big blow, stick out your tongue!  There are so many ways to use a Rapper Snapper to help build and strengthen oral musculature! 

Academic Skills

Use the Rapper Snappers to build shapes, letters, and numbers. Connect multiple Rapper Snappers for bigger numbers or shapes. Work as a team to build a giant letter on the floor!  

Rapper Snappers are a small, easy to transport, budget friendly tool that can be used across multiple settings and to target a variety of treatment goals making them the perfect tool when creating therapy activities on a budget!

Watch the Video!

Oral Motor Treatment Strategies: Part 3

On June 16, 2020, Therapro hosted a very popular webinar presented by Dr. Kate Barlow on the topic of Oral Motor Treatment Strategies. In past blog posts, we reviewed great takeaways from the webinar, as well as strategies for assessments that Dr. Barlow shared with viewers. Dr. Barlow also covered some effective treatment strategies during the webinar, as attendees reviewed: 

This seminar provided great ideas on how to provide intervention strategies to children with oral motor difficulties. TH

Well presented course, instructor passionate and knowledgeable. As a PT I appreciate the information, insights, and learning content that was presented. JW

Kate is passionate about helping families and children with feeding issues. She presents a variety of strategies and explains why and how these strategies support positive outcomes. The strategies presented can also be implemented in school based practice which is a challenging setting to service and document feeding therapy. ME

Thanks – it was very helpful! Many great takeaways that I will implement in my practice right away. ML

In this post we will take a look at the treatment strategies shared by Dr. Barlow during the Oral Motor Treatment Strategies webinar.

Dr. Barlow gave useful background information to help viewers understand the “why” when planning treatment. For example, she spent time reviewing type 2 muscle fibers – did you know that most of the muscles used for swallowing are type 2 muscle fibers? Given this information, it is easy to understand why it is so important not only to use resistance but also to increase the resistance and workload when planning treatment for oral motor strengthening. Dr. Barlow also reviewed that age and cognitive consideration should be taken into account when deciding on a treatment plan. Check out some of these other effective treatment ideas that Dr. Barlow covered: 

  • To work on lip closure, try an activity as simple as blowing kisses! This is an easy strategy in which all members of the family can easily participate – without any tools!
  • For lip and tongue awareness, Dr. Barlow shared the clever idea of putting a spoon in a cup of ice water for a few hours. The cold spoon can be used in a number of ways to help bring awareness to these areas.
  • For tongue lateralization, Dr. Barlow shared some strategies using handheld munchables.
  • Dr. Barlow also covered some tools that can be used in oral motor treatment.  For example:
    • Bubbles and blow toys are fun ways to develop lip strength.
    • Lip Bloks are a helpful tool when working on tongue retraction.
    • Z-vibes can be used for so many things like developing cheek strength, working on lip closure, and developing lip and tongue awareness.
    • Straws are a fun tool that can be used to work on  lip closure and tongue retraction.

Check out the full video to watch Dr. Barlow demonstrate some of these great treatment strategies and demo some tools she uses in her own treatment!

Oral Motor Treatment Strategies: Part 2

On June 16, 2020, Therapro hosted an overwhelmingly popular webinar presented by Dr. Kate Barlow on the topic of Oral Motor Treatment Strategies. As one viewer stated:

This was a totally amazing webinar on oral motor feeding. I learned so much information, and Kate was a wonderful speaker.” DSM

Dr. Barlow is an Assistant Professor at American International College (see her full bio here).   In part one of this blog series we recapped some great takeaways from Dr. Barlow’s June 16 webinar; one of those takeaways was that all children should be screened for feeding disorders.  In this blog post we will dive deeper into the screening and assessment strategies Dr. Barlow shared with viewers during the webinar.  

Dr. Barlow shared great tips, resources, and strategies for appropriately screening and assessing feeding disorders, noting that a good assessment is the driving force behind a good treatment plan. Dr. Barlow identified key areas to assess: lip closure and strength, reaction to gum massage, posterior cheek strength, tongue range of motion and strength, jaw strength, motor planning, and sensory assessments when appropriate. Dr. Barlow shared a decision tree that she created, explaining that it is a great way to ensure all relevant areas are covered during the screening and assessment process. With this she highlighted key questions to ask caregivers during the screening process, like the three Ps: “pain, past medical history and poop.” Other recommended questions to ask included: 

  • Is the child eating more than 10 foods?
  • How is the child being fed?
  • Where does the child eat?

Dr. Barlow’s experience in the area of pediatric feeding was clearly evident in some great pointers she offered when assessing feeding difficulties. For example:

  • Always ask about teeth brushing because of the correlation between difficulties with brushing teeth and difficulties with feeding.
  • Be sure to check that the child’s nutrition is adequate even if they are at an appropriate weight. 
  • Monitoring oxygen saturation, temperature changes, and respiratory rates during feeding can give you clear indicators of difficulty during feeding.

Viewers left this webinar with an awareness of how crucial it is to understand the deficit areas that are causing the feeding problem. That understanding is a key piece in developing an appropriate treatment plan. We will discuss Dr. Barlow’s treatment recommendations in part three of this three part recap of the Oral Motor Treatment Strategies webinar.

 A recommended resource for evaluating sensory based difficulties is the The Sensory Processing Measure. The home form is completed by a child’s parent or caregiver and provides norm-referenced standard scores for two higher level integrative functions-praxis and social participation-and five sensory systems – visual, auditory, tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular.