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 have difficulties remembering the movements so that they can become automatic.
Low muscle tone of the lips, tongue, or jaw can be another cause. Children with low muscle tone in the jaw often have their mouth open. Children with weak lips have trouble puckering up to drink from a straw, and often lose control of liquids while trying to drink. A weak tongue makes it hard to push food around the mouth while eating. Drooling also can be a problem associated with low muscle tone.
Weak muscles can affect a child’s gag reflex or cause a child to choke, which makes eating unpleasant, creating a feeding disorder. So strengthening the muscles and resetting the neural pathways is essential in treating oral motor and feeding disorders.
Feeding disorders include problems gathering food and getting ready to suck, chew, or swallow it. For example, a child who cannot pick up food and get it to her mouth or cannot completely close her lips to keep food from falling out of her mouth may have a feeding disorder.
If your child has one of the issues or a combination of deficits please make an appointment for an initial assessment with Speech Spa, LLC.