- Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders
- Swallowing Disorders
- Feeding Aversion
- Developmental Delays
- Early Intervention
- Language Acquisition
- Receptive & Expressive Language Disorders
- Phonological Awareness & Disorders
- Social & Pragmatic Language
- Metacognition & Metalinguistics
- Cognitive-Communication Disorders
- Sensory Disorders
- Fluency Disorders
- Reading Comprehension
Common Questions Parents Ask:
Why does my child have problems with his speech and/or feeding?
Historically, children were exclusively breastfed until the age of three years. They then transitioned to an open cup to drink. Immediately after birth, all babies were check to see if the tissue under the tongue was too tight, and if any tightness was found the tongue was released immediately by a midwife to promote good breastfeeding skills. Babies were exposed to hard, raw foods as early as the time they could sit up. This promoted early development of the jaw muscles to help build a foundation for healthy breathing, speech, and feeding development.
The Westernized world we live in has made pacifiers, bottles, baby foods, and sippy cups & double valved straws to prevent spilling, part of the fast-paced world we live in with the focus of convenience. Baby products are a billion-dollar industry. Air pollutants and allergies, environmental or food related, were almost unheard of before the industrial and agricultural revolutions. Genetically modified, processed foods, and foods treated with pesticides are now part of our daily diet. However, after only a few generations of being introduced to these variables, we are just now seeing the devastating ways they either directly impact or contribute to our orofacial development and health. Research by Dr. John Mew, Dr. William Hang, Dr. Kevin Boyd, Dr. Michael Gelb, Dr. Barry Raphael, Joy Leah Moeller and many other medical specialists indicate our faces are changing due to issues relating to airway disorders.
How can we either prevent these changes or help correct the areas impacted by orofacial development changes and airway disorders?
Breastfeeding exclusively for as long as possible. There are many local and national organizations that supports breastfeeding mothers.
Assessment of the tissue under the tongue immediately after birth to determine if any restriction, or more commonly known as “tongue tie”, is present. It is important to eliminate the restriction as soon as possible so the infant can have better mobility of their tongue during feeding, help to promote healthy rest posture of the tongue during breathing to support a patent airway, and influence forward growth and development of the mandible. A tongue release may also be helpful upon discovery later in life when found to impact function, while talking, eating. “Tongue tie” can also be related to postural issues, TMD, pain in the upper back and neck, tongue thrust, and many other issues.
Use a pacifier only during infancy when sleeping as studies show pacifier use helps to decrease the risk of SIDS. At about 4-6 months when your child’s non-nutritive suck pattern is extinguished, pacifier use should also be discontinued. If your child sucks their thumbs or fingers, consult an Certified Orofacial Myologist.
Bottles should be used in moderation as they promote a forward thrusting of the tongue suck pattern. This is significant during infancy and childhood as the tongue is a key component in helping to develop the palate. During breastfeeding the tip of the tongue pushes up against the palate to nurse from a breast. Despite all engineering and development of the nipple of bottles, the motor pattern of the tongue during sucking from a manmade ‘nipple’ is NOT the same as when breastfed. If your child is bottle fed, try introducing straw drinking as early as possible, around 6 months, to help develop a more mature swallow pattern using the base of the tongue, instead of the forward thrusting of the tip of the tongue.
Eliminate use of pacifiers, sippy cups, and straws with a double valve that promotes forward and low tongue posturing and tongue thrusting. Help your child learn how to drink like a big boy or girl. Learning how to handle liquids from a cup promotes a healthy, more mature tongue pattern that retracts their tongue opposed to thrusting their tongue forward when swallowing. Make rules that if they want to drink they have to sit down at the table to drink. Sippy cups only benefit the parent as they decrease mess and allow the child to drink whatever they want, whenever they want without making a mess. Sippy cups do NOT promote healthy development of the mouth muscles. Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson is among the many speech pathologist, who have documented her findings on how bottles and sippy cups contribute to many speech sound disorders.
Baby-led weaning by Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett is a very good resource to teach you how to introduce hard, solids to your very young child in a safe and exploratory manner. Exposure to hard solids, not meant to be ingested, but used to learn and develop their jaw muscles will help to promote chewing skills early. Also children learn about food smells, textures, and flavors while improving muscle based movement and coordination of their tongue needed to transition from liquids and purees to solid foods as they grow. Baby foods today don’t expose kids to texture until they are almost one year old. We are missing critical window to help develop babies muscles so they can be successful eaters. Bland, processed, pureed foods do NOT help to promote strong muscles for feeding and speech. Introduction of firm solids at young ages is significant in helping to make them good eaters.
If you or your child presents with the following: frequent colds & ear infections, has open mouth posture, breathes with their mouth and not their nose, drools, has poor speech articulation, lisping, distorted speech sounds, feeding difficulties, snoring or other breathing concerns during sleep, has behavioral, learning or attention issues the following specialists should be part of you and/or your child’s team to support and enhance their airway in a natural manner.
Pediatric Dentists who use orthotropics to expand and advance both the upper and lower jaws forward to enlarge the airway and ensure there is enough room for not only the child’s teeth, but also their tongue. Pediatric dentists can identify and treat children with airway and orofacial myofunctional disorders as early as 3 years of age.
ENTs promote the airway by treating airway restrictions, such as allergies, asthma, removing obstructions in the throat and back of the mouth, such as tonsils and adenoids, when it makes breathing difficult or effortful, and releasing any tissue under the tongue which restrict the tongue from moving freely during breathing, talking, eating or swallowing.
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapists are trained to work with the muscles of the head, neck and mouth to improve tone, range of motion, and coordination of the orofacial muscles which assist in breathing, speaking, chewing and swallowing. OM therapy also teaches typical resting postures of the tongue and lips to promote nasal breathing. When speech sound disorders are present, the focus is on treating the causes of the articulation disorders, not just the symptoms contrary to most traditional speech therapy programs or school-based speech therapy. Elimination of negative oral habits, such as leaning on hands and arms, biting of the nails and hair, and sucking of the thumb, fingers, clothing, or other objects is also an essential step in eliminating orofacial myofunctional disorders and promoting a healthy airway.
Cranial Osteopathic Specialists help promote healthy, clear breathing, posture, and spinal alignment in natural ways.
Registered Dieticians can teach parents how to feed their children using natural foods in fun ways, which promote good health for your whole family. RD’s can also help educate how foods interact with the body and can cause healthy or unhealthy responses which can impact health, development and airway concerns.