Verbal Behavior/Oral Motor Exercises for Children with Autism

An important part of any verbal behavior program for children with autism is a commitment to practicing oral-motor exercises. There are many neurological processes that restrict the ability to speak for some children with autism, however, exercising and strengthening muscles around the tongue, lips, and mouth can improve verbal skills to some extent. Here are some exercises that can be helpful. You can use a mirror and do the exercises with your child or student. This can also improve imitation skills, another important area that many children with autism need work on.

Tongue Exercises

  • Lift tongue up to upper lip, then lower lip
  • Lift tongue up behind front teeth to say “la”
  • Open mouth and lick lips with your tongue in a wide circle
  • Click tongue on roof of mouth
  • Whole Tongue Cluck – like a horse’s gallop
  • Stick out tongue as far as you can
  • Stick out tongue and blow out air
  • Push the inside of your cheek out with tongue on the right side, then the left side
  • Mouth circles – put tongue around all teeth
  • De, le, ne, te sounds

Lip Exercises 

  • Pucker lips, make “Cork popping” sound
  • Put finger between lips – make babble sound
  • Lick lips
  • Make an exaggerated sad face 

Other Exercises 

  • Big smile
  • Nose scrunch
  • Open and close your mouth, as wide as you can
  • Show your teeth
  • Puff out cheeks and hold air in, then slowly blow the air out
  • Say “””OOOOOOOOO””” then “””EEEEEEEEEE”””
  • K-k-k-k-k-k-k

Fun activities 

  • Blowing bubbles
  • Blowing pinwheel
  • Blowing dandelions
  • Playing harmonica

Sample words to practice 

  • Yes
  • No
  • Mom
  • Dad
  • Help
  • Play
  • Ball
  • Hungry
  • Juice
  • Bathroom
  • Hi
  • Bye
  • Please
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Upset
  • Sick

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