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What Is An Oral Motor Disorder?

An oral motor disorder is characterized by difficulty controlling the lips, tongue and jaw during feeding and/or speech tasks. Apraxia of speech and Dysarthria disorders are recognized as types of oral motor disorders.

How Do I Know If My Child Has An Oral Motor Disorder?


Children with oral motor disorders may exhibit the following symptoms and if you notice any of these early signs, contact your child’s pediatrician immediately to make an appointment to assess for oral motor disorders.

  • Unnecessary use of an open mouth

  • Drooling

  • Difficult to understand

  • Robotic sounding speech

  • Omission, addition and substitution of sounds

  • Difficulty imitating words on request

  • Inconsistency in sound production

  • Groping with the tongue, lips, or jaw when attempting to speak

  • Feeding difficulties

What Causes An Oral Motor Disorder To Occur?


The exact cause of oral motor disorders is unknown; however, it is believed that oral motor disorders may be connected to neurological issues (ex. stroke), genetic conditions (ex. Down syndrome), birth defects and hearing problems.

Oral Motor Disorder Treatment


While an oral motor disorder may feel like a daunting diagnosis, it is important to remember that trained speech-language pathologists have many tools and techniques to help children reconstruct their feeding and/or speech powers.


Use Your Words Speech Therapy offers pediatric therapy services to effectively address your child’s oral motor disorder. Our skilled speech therapists will target improved coordination of muscle movements through repetition of syllables, words, and phrases. The speech language pathologist will employ strategic games that assist the child in shaping his or her muscle movements into clearer speech, until the correct pronunciations become a matter of habit rather than concentrated effort.


This process often involves isolating the movements of the tongue and lips, imitating sustained vowels and consonants, acquiring core vocabulary, and pairing arm and leg movement with rhythm, intonation, and stress in order to help a child understand speech motor sequencing.


If your child is living with an oral motor disorder, finding a quality speech-language pathologist is a top priority. At Use Your Words Speech Therapy, our SLPs are experienced in treating a variety of speech-language disorders and do so with unparalleled skill and compassion.

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