Using TalkTools in therapy
What is TalkTools?
TalkTools, or Oral Placement Therapy (OPT), is one type of oral motor therapy used to help those with speech, oral placement or feeding difficulties by using a range of “tools” to provide sensory and tactile input.
TalkTools teaches the placement of oral structures (lips, tongue, jaw) for producing speech to clients who cannot produce or imitate speech sounds using traditional auditory or visual input. They also cannot follow specific instructions to produce target speech sounds e.g. ‘Put your lips together and say “m”’. For these clients, it is important to develop their speech skills by working with the sounds and other similar oral movements (e.g. tongue movements when sucking or blowing) the client can already produce.
TalkTools is only a small part of a speech and language programme and should not be done in isolation. It should be used alongside other speech and language programmes to achieve the best results. TalkTools uses a hierarchical approach and includes visual, auditory, sensory and tactile inputs to help with learning and production of the movements for improved feeding and speech skills. The activities are carefully selected to stimulate the same movements used in the targeted speech production and can be completed in under 15 minutes. The tools used in the program are fun and motivating for children i.e. straws, horns, bubbles, bite blocks, etc. It initially targets lip, jaw and tongue movements required for speech and feeding, and these skills are then quickly transferred into producing the speech sounds.
Who is TalkTools for?
TalkTools is used with a wide range of client groups, for example, Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism Spectrum Disorders and Dyspraxia. It can also be used with adults who have speech and/or feeding difficulties. TalkTools can also be used to treat a lisp and tongue tie. TalkTools is appropriate for children and adults with a range of physical, sensory and communication difficulties.
TalkTools is not appropriate for those who have adequate sensory awareness, muscle tone, muscle strength and movement. For these children, traditional articulation or phonology therapies are suitable. TalkTools can be used with children and adults of all ages and cognitive ability to improve speech production, feeding skills and to reduce or eliminate drooling, which leads to improved overall quality of life and independence.
It should be used in conjunction with other speech and feeding programmes and approaches, such as Traditional Articulation Therapy and Motor Speech Therapy.
Does TalkTools work?
TalkTools is a relatively new approach to treating children and adults with speech and feeding difficulties. TalkTools requires intense repetitions of exercises to develop and instil the motor plans for feeding and speech. When used correctly and consistently, TalkTools can be a very effective tool for improving feeding skills, speech clarity, tone in facial muscles and overall wellbeing for both children and adults. Both parents and professionals regard TalkTools as an easy and effective approach to speech therapy. To be most effective, it is important that TalkTools is used alongside other approaches. It is also important to stress that the use of TalkTools should only be implemented by appropriately trained individuals.
Who can use TalkTools?
If you are interested in using TalkTools or oro-motor exercises, then it’s important to consult a trained speech and language therapist so that you’re able to make an informed decision about how to proceed.
Call us for a free phone consultation regarding using TalkTools to improve speech and feeding difficulties, with both adults and children.
Written by Michelle McCahill, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, Unlocking Language, Independent Speech and Language Therapy Service