Parents asked: "My son started to babble like he wants to have a conversation with me. I noticed he doesn't use his tongue. What kind of kids' oral motor exercises should I do?"
The good news here is that the little boy is babbling and attempting to communicate. Babbling is a precursor for language, so if your child is doing that, they are on the track to communicating more through words.
However, if you see your child not using a part of their mouth that they need to use, especially at around 2-3 years old, you need to get them evaluated by a speech-pathologist to rule out any type of oral motor disorder.
Oral motor disorders can fall into three main categories:
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Oral motor disorders can be caused by incorrect motor programming of the muscles of the mouth – the brain sends a message to the mouth muscles, but the muscles either don’t receive or misinterpret the message.
Then the muscles don’t move or move in the wrong way, making it difficult to manage food in the mouth and to produce intelligible speech.
Some children may have difficulty remembering the movements, which then makes it difficult to make the sounds automatic.
Low muscle tone of the lips, tongue, or jaw can be another cause. I don’t know the details about the child in question, but if your child is showing issues with movement of certain parts of their mouth, watch them eating, as well.
If it’s a true issue, they will have difficulty moving food around in their mouths. They may also have issues drinking from straws if they have lip or tongue weaknesses.
If you suspect an oral motor disorder, your pediatrician can refer you to a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who can properly diagnose your child.
The therapist will interview you to see what you are noticing at home, but will also perform an assessment on your child.
This assessment may include the following:
If therapy is recommended, the therapist will instruct you on what movements and exercises you can do based on your child’s weakness.
Get personalized feedback on your child’s speech progress.
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