Speech-Feeding Relationship

By Pam Marshalla

Feeding Toddler BabyQ: Do you think feeding problems cause speech problems? My professor says no.

I believe you’re approaching the question from the wrong direction. My experience is that feeding problems do not cause speech problems, and speech problems do not cause feeding problems, because —

My experience is that both feeding and speech problems are the result of mouth movement problems. This is easy to understand if you step away from our field and consider other movement skills.

For example, a client might have problems using the hands and fingers to button his coat and to write his name.  One would never say that the problem in buttoning causes the problem in writing, or that the problem in writing causes the problem in buttoning.  In stead, one could say that both problems are related to problems with hand and finger movements.

Speaking and feeding are related to the mouth just as buttoning and writing are related to the hands. Problems in mouth movement cause problems in feeding and speech just as problems in hand movement cause problems in buttoning and writing. Feeding and speech are two aspects of the oral movement scheme just as buttoning and writing are two aspects of the hand movement scheme.

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