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Oral Motor Therapy & Debate

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NB: ASHA considers the use of non-speech oral-motor exercises (OME) highly controversial, and maintains that there is not evidence-based support for its continued use as a tool to improve speech intelligibility.

Many speech-language pathologists believe that there is still a place for OMEs for feeding issues, oral/tactile defensiveness, swallowing and other musculo-skeletal tongue and jaw issues. Some OME proponents continue to maintain that there is a role for OME in the areas of speech clarity, especially for improving strength.

It is the use of nonspeech OME that is controversial, especially the idea concerning strength and speech. Speech physiology research indicates that although speech muscles can be strengthened by exercise, the added strength is not likely to aid in improved speech productions. One of the reasons for this is that very little strength is needed for speaking; besides, in order to enhance strength, the exercises must be done many many times against resistance. In addition, if the exercise is done that is not actually the movement used during speaking, then it will not be beneficial. This is because of task specificity. In other words, any motion that is practiced that is not speech will not help speaking because the brain is organized for the task, not the muscle. The same structures may have different functions and the brain is organized for the function, not the muscle. Working on irrelevant tasks that are not speaking will not improve speech performance.

Per reader request, the following page of links supplies both sides of the debate and relevant articles for reading. PediaStaff does not endorse any particular therapy, but is supplying this page solely for the for the education of our readers.

The Oral Motor Debate, Articles for and Against

General Articles on Oral Motor Issues

NB: Some of these articles advocate use of O-M Therapy. PediaStaff does not specifically endorse any particular therapy. These articles are provided based on reader request.

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Links and Websites in Defense of and in Favor of Oral Motor Therapy

Beckman Oral Motor, Training and Education in the area of motor speech disorders.

Oral Motor Institute, The OMI is established to publish monographs that demonstrate the evidence base of oral sensory and motor techniques for articulation, motor speech, and feeding treatment.

Talk Tools.net, National and International live and self-study seminars in muscle-based (oral-motor) / feeding / speech techniques for SLPs and OTs. ASHA accredited.

Tags: Therapy or Topic SLP Therapy or Topic OT Oral Motor Therapy Oral Motor Debate