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.
Resistance: The Most Powerful Oral Motor Technique
By Pam Marshalla
Q: What can I do to help my client learn to elevate his tongue-tip to produce /t/ and /d/?
Any part of the tongue can be taught to elevate by providing something against which it can press. This is called “resistance.” (Resistance is not used to build strength. That is a misconception of the “anti-OM” crowd). Instead, resistance is used to develop specific new movement patterns.
- Press down lightly on the tongue-tip with a tool and ask the client to push up against it with the tip. This will encourage tip elevation.
- Press lightly down on the tongue-back with a tool and ask the client to push up against it with the back. This will encourage tongue-back elevation.
- Press lightly down on the sides of the tongue with a tool and ask the client to push up against it with the sides- This will encourage side elevation for the central groove.
In my opinion, resistance is the most powerful, effective, and efficient way to teach any part of the tongue to elevate. Also use it to teach the lower lip to elevate to the upper lip or upper teeth.
Any firm tool can be used to do this, such as a tongue depressor, finger, bite stick, or toothbrush handle. Follow sanitary procedures at all times.