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  • Writer's pictureKatie Carney

How can oral motor therapy help my child?

Updated: Feb 21, 2018

The goal of oral-motor therapy is to develop awareness, strength and coordination of the oral muscles. The oral muscles include the lips, tongue, cheeks, jaw, soft palate and abdominal muscles.

Children with oral motor deficits may demonstrate the following issues:

  • speech delay

  • speech sound errors

  • mumbled/slurred speech

  • drooling

  • open mouth posture

  • difficulty drinking from a cup or straw

  • difficulty progressing from purees to tougher solids

  • difficulty chewing

  • difficulty clearing food from the mouth

  • gagging

  • tongue thrust (tongue comes forward between the teeth when swallowing)

  • teeth grinding

What does oral motor therapy look like? Oral motor therapy uses different tools and activities to improve muscle function and sensory responses.

An example of a goal of oral motor therapy is to strengthen the jaw. When we produce any consonant or vowel our jaw is at one of six jaw height positions. So if a child has jaw weakness and does not have the strength to hold the jaw at one of these positions, he will be unable to say a certain sound correctly. Try saying "F" sound with your mouth open wide or "L" sound with your teeth touching each other (clenched jaw). You aren't able to say either of these sounds correctly. One way to strength the jaw is through the use of bite blocks. Bite blocks are sticks that vary in thicknesses, your child will bite on these sticks while someone else pulls gently to provide resistance and in turn strengthen the muscle.

There are many different exercises and tools used to target oral motor deficits and based on your child's evaluation your therapist will develop a specialized treatment plan.

If you feel your child may benefit from oral motor therapy, contact Katie at 773-914-2194 or

Katie is the owner of Katie Carney Speech Therapy, LLC, where she provides play based and family centered speech and feeding therapy on the south side of Chicago. Katie has a passion for proper oral motor, feeding, and speech development. To contact Katie visit her website at, call her at 773-914-2194, or email her at

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