“Believing” in “Oral Motor” – Lighten up!

By Pam Marshalla

Q: My supervisor will not let me use oral-motor techniques. She says there is no research to support them. What are your thoughts?

First I say, “Ho-hum!” Aren’t we tired of this argument yet? Isn’t it time to get past this ridiculous war of words? Let’s lighten up!

To by-pass “the oral-motor war,” I have been using the term “mouth movement” lately, as in:

If you don’t believe in “oral-motor techniques,” fine. That’s okay. It’s not a religion any way. But you certainly had better figure out how to get the jaw, lips, tongue, and velum to move better if you are involved in articulation therapy at any level. You have to figure out how you are going to get the lips closed, the tongue-tip up, the tongue to groove, and so forth. You have to figure out how to create new movements, and how to stabilize them, for the production of phonemes. Period. There is no way around this.

The term “oral motor” simply is the most recent label used to identify the methods that textbooks on traditional articulation therapy have discussed for the past 100 years. Historically at least 42 different terms have been used to describe this process, and at least 22 different ways have been utilized to go about it. See postings on Oral Motor Techniques in History and 22 Fundamental Methods of Facilitating Jaw, Lip, and Tongue Movements for this information.

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