My child can’t spit out their toothpaste or suck from a straw! What can I do?
Have you ever noticed your child has difficulty moving food from one side of their mouth to the other, can’t spit out their toothpaste, and can’t suck from a straw? have you noticed they don’t pucker their lips when giving you a kiss and when they take a bite of food on one side of their mouth, they turn their whole head to that side to chew and swallow it? While having trouble with one of these in isolation is not a big deal, if you see many of these signs, your child may have oral dyspraxia.
Children with oral dyspraxia usually don’t have problems with automatic oral movements like spontaneously licking an ice cream cone. But they have great difficulty performing oral movements on demand, such as sticking out their tongue or licking their lips when you ask them to. It is not the same as verbal apraxia, which is the difficulty to say or pronounce words. While children with oral dyspraxia don’t automatically have verbal dyspraxia, they often co-exist.
Treatment for oral dyspraxia begins with developing sensory awareness of the mouth. Next, therapy activities focus on developing coordination and strength of oral musculature for oral motor control. Finally, the ability to come up with ideas, plan, sequence, and execute mouth movements is critical to participate in activities of daily living such as toothbrushing and feeding. Oral dyspraxia can be especially challenging because the mouth is a part of the body that children can’t physically see as they are using it. Practicing in front of a mirror or mimicking your mouth moves can be a helpful strategy. Consistent practice and repetition are important and necessary to helping children with dyspraxia. If you have any questions or concerns about oral dyspraxia or feeding, feel free to call Amanda at Sensational Achievements today!
Written by: Amanda Michel, MLD, OTR/L
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