When they're born, children attain various developmental milestones, including oral motor skills.
Children learn how to co-ordinate between the brain, muscles, and nerves, which control their jaws, tongues, lips, cheeks, and other parts of their mouths through eating, chewing, and swallowing,
Children who have difficulty chewing, swallowing, and manipulating food within their mouths often have difficulty forming sounds and struggle to communicate.
Therefore, it is vital to strengthen the muscles and connections to the brain to improve both eating and speech.
Signs that there could be an oral motor problem include:
• Excessive drooling.
• Inability to stick out their tongue or move it from side to side.
• Difficulty drinking from a straw or sucking from a bottle.
• Gaping mouth postures.
• Trouble feeding or swallowing.
• Refusal to eat hard or chewy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables or meats.
• Speech that is difficult to understand.
Exercises to help strengthen oral motor development:
• The tongue plays a vital role in chewing, swallowing, and producing speech sounds.
• Fun exercises and activities you can do with your child are blowing bubbles, drinking from straws of various thicknesses, lollipop sucking and making silly faces.
• Jaw, facial, and lip exercises to extend the range of motion.
• Tongue twisters
• Blowing light objects such as having cotton ball blowing or feather blowing races.
• Use an electric toothbrush to increase tactile input.
If your child struggles with speech and language skills related to poor muscle tone in their tongue and other mouth muscles, never overlook the benefit of speech therapy.