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contact Florida Speech to set up an appointment to
have an oral-motor evaluation and/or treatment.
Oral Motor Treatment:
- Oral-motor skills are the skills to carry out
specific movements and functions of the lips,
tongue, cheeks, and other various supporting muscles
of the oral area.
- If there is an oral-motor deficiency, as with
many individuals with cerebral palsy, there will
be noted difficulty, or in some severe cases the
complete inability, to carry out basic oral functions
such as saliva secretion control, drinking, eating,
- Oral-apraxia is the term used to diagnose an
individual who has difficulties controlling oral
muscles on demand. In basic terms, this individual
is unable to open and close his or her mouth when
verbally asked to do so, but has no difficulty
opening and closing his or her mouth when voluntarily
- Speech-language pathologists are the professionals
who are able to evaluate oral-motor skills and
identify oral-motor deficiencies, and disorders.
- Oral-motor treatment is dependant on the needs
of the specific individual clients, but typically
focuses on increasing the functional use of oral
movements through oral musculature massage, and
oral-motor exercises such as blowing, sucking,
- Oral motor exercises help the muscles in the
mouth and face for speech, eating, and saliva
control. Below are some things you can do with
any child just for fun, and target better oral
motor control at the same time!
- Blowing bubbles: This works on exercising
the muscles that make our lips round for the
/w/ sound, works on breath control and support,
and just about all children love bubbles!
- Licking peanut butter or marshmallow crème
with the tongue after it has been placed on
the roof of the mouth or behind the top front
teeth. These exercises work on tongue lifting
and if you put some on one side of the cheek
it helps for the tongue to move side to side.
- Put cheerios or applejacks on the table and
have your child ’spear’ one with
his tongue. This may be difficult for him to
understand but you can show him! The child has
to aim and protrude tongue past the lips. This
exercise works on tongue protrusion and can
aid with producing the /th/ sounds.
- Rub syrup, frosting or peanut butter on the
outside of your child’s lips so he can
lick his lips with his tongue. This works on
tongue control and protrusion.
- Play a funny face making game with a mirror.
Make silly faces in the mirror while you are
brushing your child’s teeth at night and
try to get him to imitate. This is a natural
time to be in front of a mirror, so it’s
a perfect time to try some oral-motor exercises!
These exercises work on overall facial muscle
control and movement, and allows your child
to see what happens when he moves his lips,
cheeks, and tongue in different ways. These
can help aid articulation difficulties. Some
examples include sticking out your tongue, puckering
your lips and opening your mouth. Try to play
a funny face making game without the mirror
- Get some harmonicas, horns, party horns, and/or
flutes, (available at most discount or dollar
stores) and allow your child to play them a
few times a day. These promote sucking and blowing
skills, including lip closure, lip rounding,
breath control, and breath support. You can
also try blowing through a straw. A fun game
to try is to ‘race’ blowing cotton
balls off of the table.
- Get rid of sippy-cups! Sippy-cups can promote
tongue thrust, which causes the tongue to push
forward when swallowing, can cause dental problems,
and can promote the development of deviant speech
production. Instead, use a cup with a lid and
plastic straw. You can find these items at Target,
- Use vibrating toys around the face and mouth,
use a vibrating toothbrush for their mouth (move
the toothbrush around their entire mouth if
they will let you). These stimulate the muscles,
and promote more musculature awareness.
- Give your child different textures of foods.
Try various foods such as spicy foods, crunchy
foods, sour flavors, etc.
- Use some ‘chewy’ toys. These are
great for kids that like to chew on things,
put things in their mouth and have problems
with controlling their drool. You can find some
great ones at www.integrationscatalog.com,
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