This advice-column-style blog for SLPs was authored by Pam Marshalla from 2006 to 2015, the archives of which can be explored here. Use the extensive keywords list found in the right-hand column (on mobile: at the bottom of the page) to browse specific topics, or use the search feature to locate specific words or phrases throughout the entire blog.
Evidence-Based Practice and Oral Motor Research
By Pam Marshalla
Q: I am a graduate student and I am writing a paper on the efficacy of oral motor exercises in children with articulation difficulties. Having attended a seminar of yours, I am wondering if there are researchers you could point me to who have used EBP in their research.
Please see the articles we have published on the Oral Motor Institute website.
3 thoughts on “Evidence-Based Practice and Oral Motor Research”
Are there any studies that prove the effectiveness of oral motor exercises specifically for articulation? I have several professors that have said such studies do not exist. If there are valid studies, please let me know, and I will share them with my professor and peers. I looked at the link provided, but there is a lot to sort though, and I did not see any EBP studies directed toward articulation.
Perhaps these notes will help-
1. Please read everything I have posted on this blog about the EBP. There is no such thing as an “EBP study.” There is EVIDENCE that one uses to create a PRACTICE. An “evidence-based practice” is a goal. One desires to engage in an “evidence-based practice.” An “evidence-based practice” is one in which one makes clinical decisions based on EVIDENCE. But that EVIDENCE does NOT only come from the research lab- which is what your professors are insisting. There are millions of things that SLPs do everyday for which there is NO LABORATORY EVIDENCE, i.e., no empirical research. For example, we ask kids to sit still in therapy yet there is no empirical evidence that asking kids to sit still will improve their speaking skills. Therapists (like me) gather evidence from more that the laboratory– from at least three sources— LABORATORY RESEARCH, CLINICAL EXPERIENCE, and WHAT PROVES TO WORK WITH THE CLINET AT HAND.
2. Your professors are saying that there is no evidence that wagging the tongue left and right, or puckering the lips 15 times in a row, or blowing a horn will cause phonemes to improve. THEY ARE RIGHT. But that is not what “oral-motor therapy” or “oral-motor treatment” or “oral-motor techniques” are.
3. You have a lot of reading to do to catch up with this area. There is 40 years+ of CLINICAL WORK behind this concept, and to be honest, very few professors know what they are talking about in this matter. ORAL-MOTOR is simply a process of facilitating better jaw, lip, cheek, and tongue movements for speech. There are hundreds of ways of going about it. Even Van Riper used these methods. Please use my Blog posts and the articles posted on the Oral Motor Institute website to help you start to get hold of this concept. You have grabbed a very big tiger by the tail.
Greg Lof has written about a review of the research on oral motor exercises and how they are related to improving speech, specifically. He found that …sucking helps sucking, licking helps licking, and talking helps talking! Sucking and licking don’t help talking. Most kids need to work on Coordinating their articulators, not strengthening.