Oral Motor Skills

It’s been a while since I’ve given an update on MiniMe’s speech development (Last Blog). We had decided on a speech therapist who would actually travel to the school, was recommended by the school and was covered partially by our insurance.

Normally the process starts off with an evaluation but since we already had 2 completed, Mrs. S (our new therapist) contacted the other therapist for copies of their evaluations. As mentioned in the previous post… both evaluations had different suggestions. So it was great to hear a third opinion from Mrs. S.

After meeting with MiniMe multiple times at school; Mrs. S said she was able to understand everything that she was trying to say (complete opposite of the one E-Val). She noted some of the substitution that she was doing; although some of it is age appropriate, but she also pointed out the fact that my daughter seems to have some oral motor skill issues. It’s not all the time, but occasionally she will stick her tongue out (almost lisp like) and sometimes use her bottom teeth instead of her bottom lip. So Mrs. S suggested that we start with some exercises that would work on her oral motor skills.

To begin, we scheduled a couple of the sessions to be at her home office so that we would have a chance to be shown what to do (thank goodness.. I would have been lost without visuals). So the first exercise we started with was a set of whistles. YEP.. apparently this is very common with kids. Each whistle is unique in that it requires your mouth to close around it in a different manner to be able to use it. Our homework was to do the whistle exercise 3 times a day for 15 times on each whistle; working our way up in difficulty.

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We were given 4 different whistles, but the first whistle (top in picture) is also the third whistle. The first is just to blow through it, then the harmonica(blue), then back to the first but this time she has to blow it longer while I pull the green part out. Then we continue with the other 2 whistles.
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The 2nd exercise that she wanted us to do was a tongue exercise. This one was a little more difficult for me to understand. Essentially you take this little rubber stick that has a block on the end with different textures on it and you tap the side of MiniMe’s tongue with it, about mid way back, 3 times and then pull out into her cheek. You do this equally on both sides a few times.. 3 times a day.
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Apparently its human nature that your tongue will automatically try to follow the block when it’s pulled to your cheek. The hard part is getting a 3 yr. old to open her mouth without sticking her tongue out and to let you do this a few times a day. At first she instantly pulled her tongue back or gagged and doesn’t know what to do. Again this coincides with the tongue incoordination that Mrs. S was talking about.

After 2 weeks of practicing the exercises, we met back up with Mrs. S and were given another level of whistles to try. The first was the very last one in the previous group. We were stuck on it because she was having trouble getting sound out of it. The other 2 are brand new ones that require more mouth pressure and a stronger burst of air to get the actual whistle sound to come out.
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We were also given a chewing exercise to complete. Using this “T” shaped rubber device you put the one part on the side of MiniMe’s mouth and have her bite down on it 15 times and then switch and bite down with the other side of her mouth 15 times. This one is very basic and seems somewhat silly but we will continue over the next 2 weeks.
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While we practice the at home oral motor skill exercises, Mrs. S will be meeting with my daughter at school to work on the articulation side of things. The first hurdle is focusing on getting the /k/ sounds for words with it in the final position and initial position. Currently MiniMe is substituting the /k/ with a /t/.

That’s were we are at currently.. so fingers crossed that we will start seeing some improvement with all the at school work and homework exercises!

– Mommy H.

(cat… candy.. color…key)

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