VAST Pre-Speech Oral Motor is designed for individuals on the Autism spectrum who are non-verbal or have minimal verbal skills due to a motor speech planning disorder such as apraxia.
Children with apraxia of speech have difficulty planning speech movements of the tongue, lips, palate and jaw (articulators), hindering their development of verbal speech. Some children on the spectrum may have challenges with everyday activities such as blowing their nose, spitting out toothpaste or pocketing food.
This app utilizes the highly effective concept of video modeling and auditory cues to promote awareness of oral structures, coordination, strength, tone, chewing, the swallowing of food and saliva and speech clarity; eventually working towards students gaining the ability to speak for themselves. In clinical trials, the VAST videos have been highly effective in increasing a child’s ability to attend to a communication partner’s mouth in the natural environment.
The VAST Videos are organized into 4 categories: Pre-Exercise, Oral Motor Exercises, Making Sounds and Functional Activities. All activities are designed to:
- Promote awareness of oral structures and articulators
- Increase speech clarity
- Improve coordination, tone & strength of articulators
- Encourage skills for functional activities that include blowing, sucking, chewing and licking
- Increase awareness and ability to swallow food and saliva, while decreasing pocketing of food
- Promote carryover from therapy to home
There is a growing amount of clinical evidence that suggests motor speech impairments such as apraxia are a significant factor in hampering the development of verbal speech in children with autism.
Traditional Oral Motor Therapy will have students watch a therapist perform oral motor exercises then repeat the movement (usually X10). This technique does not usually work well due to the challenges students on the spectrum have with making eye contact or looking at a person’s face. It is difficult to see how the articulators move when the ability to look at the face is fleeting. The videos in this app make it possible to effectively demonstrate pre-speech and functional oral motor movements without the challenges of face to face interactions - students with autism may intently watch these videos, free from the distraction of personal interaction.
Lois Jean Brady MS, CCC-SLP developed the exercises guided the video production. Lois is an Autism expert with 20+yrs of experience and author of “Apps for Autism” and “Speech in Action.”