Oral-motor skills refer to the movement of the muscles of the face and oral area (e.g., mouth, jaw, lips, tongue, soft palate). These skills are influenced by muscle tone, muscle strength, range of motion, speed, coordination, and dissociation (the ability to move oral structures, such as the tongue and lip, independently of each other) (Kumin n.d.). Clinical experience suggests that the acquisition and maturation of oral-motor movements underlie sound production and feeding skills (e.g., sucking, biting, and chewing) (Arvedson and Brodsky 2002). Children with developmental disabilities may demonstrate oral-motor patterns that are not observed in typical development. Atypical oral-motor patterns include jaw thrusting, tongue thrust, tonic bite reflex, lip retraction, tongue retraction, and nasal regurgitation (Morris 1978). A child’s oral-motor skills may be assessed by a speech-language pathologist.
References and Reading
- Arvedson, J. C., & Brodsky, L. (2002). Pediatric swallowing and feeding: Assessment and management (2nd ed.). Clifton Park: Thomson Delmar Learning.Google Scholar
- Kumin, L. (n.d.) Resource guide to oral motor skill difficulties in children with down syndrome. Retrieved 21 Jan 2011 from http://www.ndsccenter.org/resources/documents/speech/OralMotor.pdf.
- Morris, S. (1978). Oral motor development: Normal and abnormal. In J. M. Wilson (Ed.), Oral-motor function and dysfunction in children. Chapel Hill: Division of Physical Therapy, UNC.Google Scholar
- Morris, S. E., & Klein, M. D. (2000). Pre-feeding skills: A comprehensive resource for feeding development (2nd ed.). Tucson: Therapy Skill Builders.Google Scholar