Thursday, 31 January 2013

My Oral Motor Needs a Tune Up!

Have you ever really thought about what it takes to speak?  Or how many different skills are required to eat?    Before I had kids, I never really thought about it.  It's all just supposed to happen, right? Well, generally speaking, it does.  Most children tend to follow similar stages of development in similar timelines, but every once and while you encounter....

An Owie.  Cue cricket noises.

It helps if you open your mouth Honey.  Just sayin'

I'll be the first one to say that his developmental timeline is officially upside down, backwards and turned around.  It is disordered, delayed and disorganized.  And because of this, we never know what skill he needs to work on so that the next milestone will work out for him.

It has been challenging, and has taken a very long time to get to where we are now with oral motor.  There is still a very long road ahead too.  Since we are on our own for therapy now we build lots of things into our day that help him with oral motor strength, awareness, coordination, movement, and endurance of the jaw, tongue, lips and cheeks.  We say funny words over and over.  We use vibrating toothbrushes for sensory awareness, as well as helping desensitize his gag reflex.  We practice sticking our tongues out in every different direction, which we all find terribly amusing!  We are now attempting to move things around in the mouth using the tongue.  I'll be honest with you all here.  I find this activity nerve racking- because Owen chokes A LOT.  And late last year we lost a very close relative.  To choking.  I know, things happen beyond our control- and I'm trying my level best to remain calm and continue with all things feeding related.

The Sucker Dance
I felt most comfortable using a lollipop or toothbrush for this activity, since I was asking him to move it from cheek to cheek without using his hands, I knew that I could grab it if I needed to.  Oral motor excercises are always done while sitting at the table.  To help with awareness I asked him to touch his cheek as he moved it from side to side.  Sometimes I let him use a mirror, just so that he can see where it is and where it needs to go.  I found it kind of interesting that he drooled excessively during this activity.

Bubble Gum Gumption
Like most kids, he really relishes the idea of Bubble Gum.  Those appealing little colourful packages of sugar and artificial flavour...  Not my favourite thing in the world for the kids to be chomping on, but since he really only keeps it in there for a few minutes before he says he's done, I caved.  Again, we do this at the table, so that he stays in one place, and is less likely to get side tracked and choke on it.  It goes in, he moves it side to side in his mouth once chewed.  I'm still trying to get him to put it under his tongue.  He desperately wants to blow bubbles with it, but so far, his tongue and lips are not only not strong enough to do it, but they just won't cooperate.  We end both activities with a thorough tooth brushing - as soon as we're finished!

Do you have any ideas for Oral Motor Activities that you do with your own little ones?  I'm always looking for more ideas!  If you've stopped by to take a peek inside our lives, please feel free to leave a little hello down in the comments!

From the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists

"Occupational therapy is the art and science of enabling engagement in everyday living, through occupation; of enabling people to perform the occupations that foster health and well-being; and of enabling a just and inclusive society so that all people may participate to their potential in the daily occupations of life (Townsend& Polatajko, 2007, p. 372)."


  1. In my blog reading I have found your blog a few times. You sound so good natured and patient - an ideal mom.
    I hope he does well. ( and you too)

  2. I never really thought about it. It's all just supposed to happen, right? Well, generally speaking, it does. Most children tend to follow similar stages of development in similar timelines, but every once and while you encounter....