August 21, 2015

Cheerful mother is teaching her male toddler to talk. She is holding him and sitting on flooring. The mom is looking at her child with love

What is oral motor therapy? Is it effective and functional? For many, this approach provides results with children and for others oral motor therapy lacks research proof. According to McCauley, Strand, Lof, et al., 2009, “Oral-motor exercises (OMEs) are nonspeech activities that involve sensory stimulation to or actions of the lips, jaw, tongue, soft palate, larynx, and respiratory muscles which are intended to influence the physiologic underpinnings of the oropharyngeal mechanism and thus improve its functions. They include active muscle exercise, muscle stretching, passive exercise, and sensory stimulation.”

Examples of oral motor therapy may include the following actions: blowing, tongue push-ups, pucker-smile, tongue wags, big smile, tongue-to-nose-to-chin, cheek puffing, blowing kisses, and tongue curling. Despite some of the industry controversy of whether oral motor exercises are an appropriate approach to treat speech sounds disorders, Epic’s speech therapists have proven oral motor exercises that continue to make a difference when treating speech disorders in particular articulation skills, oral awareness, and facial tonicity.

For example, bubble blowing is a great way to increase production of early developing phonemes (/p/), when working with our little ones. It is fun, and many young children do not realize they are working on speech. In addition, many of our Epic speech therapists have noted working on oral motor exercises increases oral awareness, or awareness of the structures in the mouth, such as poor coordination. Strength of articulators drastically influence adequate speech sound production. Oral motor therapy, when implemented correctly, can be both effective and functional in helping treat a speech sound disorder. Please fill out our request for care form today!

Marybell Balderas, MSCCCSLP

Epic Pediatric Therapy, El Paso