Oral motor difficulties
Oral motor difficulties occur when individuals have difficulties using the lips, tongue, jaw, teeth and palate. This can have an impact on a child's speech as well as their eating, drinking and swallowing.
Our speech and language therapists can work with children with oral motor difficulties to increase their speech skills as well as ensure they have effective and safe eating, drinking and swallowing abilities.
What are oral motor difficulties?
Oral motor difficulties are any problems that an individual may experience with the use and function of the movement of the mouth. This includes the lips, tongue, jaw and palate. This is a physical condition but may be neurological in nature. Oral motor difficulties will affect they way your child can manipulate food in their mouth, use straws when drinking and will often affect the clarity and accuracy of their speech.
What causes oral motor difficulties?
Oral motor difficulties are a physical condition but can be neurological in nature. If part of the child's brain is affected by a neurological condition, they may have difficulty programming their motor movements for the mouth. Neurological conditions may also cause difficulties for the child remembering the motor movements to make the movements automatic.
Oral motor movements may also be caused by decreased muscle tone.
What feeding problems caused by oral motor difficulties can speech and language therapy help with?
Children with oral motor difficulties may experience many problems with their feeding that speech and language therapy can help with, including:
How can SLT for Kids help a child with oral motor difficulties?
Speech and language therapy has several benefits for a child with oral motor difficulties, including:
- Increase confidence around meal times.
- Reduce stress and anxiety during feeding for the child and the family.
- Improved motor movements.
- Preventing gag reflux.
- Increase child’s intelligibility.
What would treatment for a child with oral motor difficulties involve?
Speech and language therapists use various treatment and assessments to treat a child with oral motor difficulties, including:
- Detailed assessment and discussion with parents.
- Physical oral-motor assessment.
- Goal setting with family in context of the child’s needs.
- Therapy exercises to help improve the range and strength of the oral motor movements.
- Advice and education on oral motor difficulties and feeding problems.
- Speech therapy.
- Referral to other professionals if appropriate and beneficial for the child.
How do I arrange an assessment for my child with oral motor difficulties?
To arrange a speech and language therapy assessment for oral motor difficulties with one our speech and language therapists please call 0330 088 2298.
Oral motor difficulties are any difficulties in controlling and programming of the muscles and movements of the mouth, jaw, lips and palate. Oral motor difficulties are a physical difficulty but may be neurological in nature. Speech and language therapy can help children with oral motor difficulties to develop the use of these muscles and to improve their feeding ability.
If your child has oral motor difficulties and you think they would benefit from seeing one of our specialist paediatric speech and language therapists, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0330 088 2298.