My 2-year-old Has a Tongue Thrust – What Can I Do?
Orofacial myofunctional therapy can help teach a correct swallow. However, orofacial myofunctional therapy requires you to be able to follow some complex directions. Therefore, kids under 4 years of age, or kids with special needs, may not be able to participate in traditional orofacial myofunctional therapy.
So, what do we do instead?
There are various treatment strategies that we can use to achieve the same goals of myofunctional therapy. These include:
Therapeutic feeding strategies
We can alter the way we feed our child, or the way our child eats, in order to promote proper use of the tongue, jaw, lips, etc. For example, drinking from a shortened straw encourages tongue retraction.
Oral motor exercises (passive)
Since young kids are unlikely to imitate exactly what we want them to do, we have to try to achieve these movements by using sensory input to encourage the motor responses. For example, massaging the lateral borders of the tongue will encourage the tongue to lateralize.
Oral motor exercises (active)
Depending on the age of the child, there may be some oral motor movements we can encourage the child to do, especially when we make it fun! For example, we can work on tongue lateralization by having them lick Dum-Dum lollipops!
Who Can Help?
A speech-language pathologist trained in orofacial myofunctional therapy and pediatric feeding will be able to give you a treatment plan based on your particular child’s needs.