Thanks to social networking, I have been fortunate enough to learn more about Ark Therapeutic supplies for oral motor treatment. Years ago, I used a Z-Vibe, that was purchased by the Early Intervention program that I worked for, with great success. I saw the immediate benefits of providing this kind of stimulation when the little boy I was working with gained better control of his anterior loss of saliva by putting his lips together following just minutes of treatment. Since then, several new items have developed and I had my eye on a Z-grabber. When I reached out to Ark Therapeutic, they graciously offered to not only send some resources for my review, but also took the time to get details from me about my clinical needs. This post will review how I have been using many of the items in my collection to date along with direct links to the products at Ark Therapeutic.
For starters, I busted out the Z-Grabber. This tool is a combination of a grabber and Z-Vibe in one and I immediately loved it!! I have used it with two clients, both of which have low tone and significant difficulty with jaw stability. Neither of these clients were huge fans of a typical grabber and in fact, refused these despite my best, speech tricks. It appeared that the vibration element for these clients was a necessity in order to work on jaw stabilization, but that may not always be the case. My once resistive clients are now accepting some bite and hold exercises using the Z-Grabber and now that these families have given the Z-Grabber a try and have observed the benefits of using one, they have put this product on their wish list for the holidays.
One HUGE benefit to purchasing the Z-Grabber instead of just the Z-Vibe is that you are getting two tools in one! As though that weren't enough, you can also get an array of tips to switch out on the Z-Vibe end. The tips that I was fortunate enough to try are pictured below with a brief description of how I used each of these at my private practice. Many thanks to my son for modeling and agreeing to once again be my guinea pig.
The Probe Tip has three surfaces: bumpy, striated, and smooth. I started out introducing the smooth side and took baby steps towards trying the textured ones. I didn't notice resistance to any surface with my client; however, every child is different so I would follow your client's lead. This tip is best used for providing input to gums, palate, lips, cheeks and tongue using gentle pressure with or without vibration. It is recommended that when using this tip on a client's palate, that you refrain from turning on vibration as this can be over stimulating for some clients. It was my experience that turning the vibration on for tongue tip elevation distracted my client as he reached for the probe with his tongue and not his palate. We will continue using this probe during speech sessions because this client seems to benefit more from tactile cues than with verbal only directions.
The Preefer Tip was designed to roll along inner cheeks and/or lips to increase oral awareness. I have been using this tip as a "wake up" option by stoking the outside of my clients cheeks in a downward motion before moving inside his mouth to target bite/chew and tongue elevation. I think the ridged surface of this tip was a brilliant idea because it provides the perfect amount of stimulation without being overbearing.
The Fine Tip is far less invasive than using your chubby, gloved finger or tongue depressor to point out tongue placement. This handy tool not only helps pinpoint locations for tongue placement, but it is also skinny enough to position along the sides of the tongue for stimulation of sounds such as /r/. I tried this tip out with my client working on tongue tip elevation for sounds /t, d, n/ and preferred this tip over the probe for him. I like that I can also use this for future clients working on /r/ who require stimulation to the sides of the tongue for cuing tension.
The last tip that I tried out was the Bite-n-Chew. It was a great option for my client who had a hard time starting with the Z-Grabber because the later is less flexible and harder to bite. This Bite-n-Chew tip is smooth and somewhat flexible. You can place it either vertically or horizontally on molars depending on your client's needs. I have been using both this one and the Z-Grabber to stimulate biting with a client who prefers chewing on his left side. I will continue using these tools immediately before snack time in our session as I have seen a dramatic increase in biting when foods are placed on his right side. Prior to trying the vibes, this client would only take bites using his front teeth or left side and protest assertively when food was presented on his right side. He no longer protests and will readily accept presentations on both sides now!
If you do invest in a tool that can provide vibration, I highly recommend purchasing the Tips and Techniques for the Z-Vibe, DnZ-Vibe, and Z-Grabber because it is a fabulous resource for specific exercises and stimulation techniques for using these tools. I have mine tabbed with client names on pages with exercises that I want to continue testing and using in my practice.
In addition to the Z-Vibe family, Ark Therapeutic sells regular grabbers to assist with jaw stability, biting, chewing, and tongue coordination. There are several different types to meet your client's needs from those with smooth narrow parts that suit tiny oral cavities to those with harder textures for older clients. There are even options to purchase scented grabbers to motivate those less willing to accept presentations of these tools. While I have not yet tried all of the grabbers, I have a decent assortment in my toolkit. In the past, I have found that chilling grabbers or dipping them in foods tempt some hesitant clients to open wide. For now, my clientele are moderately to severely involved and require maximum stimulation opportunities via vibration.
Just prior to contacting Ark Therapeutic, I had purchased: Tips and Techniques for the Grabber Family from the Ark catalog. Like the tips booklet for the Z-Vibe family, this handy how-to companion will give you step by step instructions for using grabbers for a variety of purposes. Since a copy of the same book was included in my materials package from Ark, I decided to raffle off the donation to my followers! I'm also adding a textured grabber for your oral motor toolkit. You can enter the raffle for these must have items in the Rafflecopter at the end of this review.
In addition to the grabbers, the remaining items in my box of goodies were directed towards improving straw drinking: the Bear Bottle, a lip blocker, and one way valve. Earlier this year, I began private services with a two year old who has a limited verbal repertoire and insists on drinking from a bottle. He seems to be using this for soothing purposes and reportedly likes to carry the bottle using just his teeth. While his parents have been working very hard on transitioning to straw and cup drinking, they definitely needed more ammunition. Enter, the Bear bottle from Ark Therapeutic. First and foremost, I liked this option for my young client because it's adorable and novel for kids. We have been calling it his new "bottle" since he started using it. At first, he pushed it away, but now he takes successive sips before drinking from his old bottle. He has even named it: B and accepts drinking from it more often than he refuses. I call this success! While Ark Therapeutic was kind enough to include a lip blocker and one way valve, this client did not need these supports. However, I noticed another client having difficulty sustaining a suction while straw drinking and the one way valve worked wonders for him. This valve traps the fluid in the straw rather than let it drop back to the bottom when the suction is released. One thing that I did notice about the lip blocker was that it would appear to stay in place on the straw after multiple uses and washes. It is made of hard plastic and fits snugly into a straw. There are five types of blockers sold by Ark which allows for graduation as your client improves his or her ability to position musculature for drinking without tactile feedback.
If you have any questions, Ark Therapeutic has a contact link on their website that you can access. I am so thankful for their products and personal attention to details, both of which made my testing trial such a positive experience for myself and my clients.
Disclosure: Ark Therapeutic generously donated supplies for this review. No other compensation was received in exchange for this summary. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
9/22/14 UPDATE: Ark Therapeutic is providing the coupon code SPEECH2ME for my followers for 15% off site-wide through the end of October!