Blowing bubbles is a fun activity for both parents and kids alike, but it may come as a surprise that it is also a popular pastime of speech-language therapists too. While it may appear to be completely unrelated to SLT, blowing bubbles can actually have a wide variety of benefits for patients who have conditions such as autism. The reasons for this are outlined below.
First and foremost, bubbles have a mesmerizing effect on pretty much anyone. The way they move around and disappear is very unique, so they are an extremely effective way to attract and retain attention. Patients can watch, blow bubbles, pop them, run around in them, and much more, which leads to people getting involved and excited. This is one of the main reasons why bubbles are used in SLT, particularly with young children.
Bubbles are not only interesting to observe for people of any age, but they are also safe for people of any age or physical ability. This makes it a great way to engage different types of people, but it also means that bubble therapy can be used over the course of years, without losing its effectiveness.
Although many patients can blow bubbles by themselves, many require the help of an adult. Whether this is to get the bubbles, open the bottle, or actually blow the bubbles themselves, it gives the patient an incentive to seek someone out and ask for their help, which is an instrumental step in SLT.
One of the ultimate goals of SLT is often increased vocabulary, which blowing bubbles has been linked to. The reason behind this is that the excitement bubbles can instill in patients makes them much more open to speaking up. Blowing bubbles is the perfect time to encourage a patient to talk, which can be done by asking how they want the bubbles blown e.g. big bubbles, loads of bubbles, two bubbles touching etc. Usually children will have a preference, and the excitement they feel will help them overcome any reservations they have to speak up.
Many patients of SLT have issues making an ‘O’ shape with their lips, and while blowing bubbles won’t actually address that issue by itself, it can help you to identify it. If you watch the patient blowing bubbles, when you are level with their face, check to see if they are making the proper shape with their lips. If not, use your hands to help them make the right shape. While many of the benefits of this therapy occur passively, it is important to note that this is something the patient will have to put an active effort into.
Whether you like it or not, blowing bubbles is a group activity. Once they’ve left the wand, they’re fair game, which is exactly why it is the perfect activity to encourage turn taking. The child will enjoy themselves whether they are blowing the bubbles or popping them, so use this time to positively reinforce sharing and turn taking.
These are some of the most common reasons that blowing bubbles is used in SLT, but there are numerous other benefits also. Because there are so many advantages to this seemingly innocuous pastime, there are countless ways that it can be used to address a wide variety of problems. If you or someone you know is looking for SLT, this is certainly an exercise to consider.