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Oral Motor Problems

An individual may have difficulty intrinsically feeling where his articulators  lips, tongue, jaw, palate) are/or and how to move them. ( This difficulty in knowing where things are is also called impairedproprioception).  This person may be unable to “dissociate”, or move one articulator without another other moving along with it.

How much strength do you need for speech?  Not much.  However, the ability to accurately reach targets and efficiently move from one to the other is essential.  “Oral Placement Therapy” was invented by Sarah-Rosenfeld-Johnson, SLP, to go beyond the “watch me and listen to me” approach of traditional speech therapy.  In OPT, the therapist incorporates the tactile and proprioceptive senses in order to help the individual feel where his articulators should be.

For additional information about OPT visit the website:


·   The client may not be able to open his mouth and touch his tongue tip to the bumpy spot just behind his middle upper teeth.  When this person is asked to tap the corners of his lips with his tongue tip, his jaw moves from side to side.  In this example, the individual cannot move his tongue independently of his jaw.  (This can also be a sign of oral apraxia - see below). Difficulty dissociating the tongue tip from the back of the tongue can result in very poor productions of tongue tip sounds such as /t, d, s, n, l/.




Tips for Families:

Beware of practicing "strengthening" exercises that have nothing to do with speech.


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