The use of tools and other objects in articulation therapy has been bundled into new groups of activities called “nonspeech oral motor exercises” (NSOME) and ‘nonspeech oral motor treatments’ (NSOMT) by some authors. The purveyors of these new terms suggest that there is no proof that such objects aid speech learning, and they have cautioned students and professionals about their use. Speech-language pathologists are trying to reconcile these cautions with basic Van Riper type therapy routines. The purpose of this literature review was to summarize the ways in which tools/objects were used by Van Riper and other speech professionals between 1939 and 1968. Fourteen textbooks were selected for review. Van Riper and other developers of traditional articulation therapy regularly used a wide variety of tools/objects in articulation therapy. Tools/objects were used when other auditory, linguistic, and cognitive means failed to stimulate correct phoneme productions. To call these activities “non-speech” methods seems to misrepresent the historic purpose objects have served in articulation therapy. More empirical research is required in this area.


Articulation therapy, phonetic placement method, oral motor techniques, nonspeech oral motor exercise, nonspeech oral motor treatment, oral sensory-motor techniques, traditional articulation therapy, motokinesthetic method, orofacial myofunctional disorders, oromotor, speech tools, horns, whistles, bite blocks, straws, tongue depressors