Oral motor skills refer to controlling the mouth muscles for speech, eating, and forming expressions on command. When kids’ muscles are weak it can lead to delays in safe eating and articulate speech. Oral motor delays can also result from motor planning issues when the brain has difficulty coordinating the necessary movements for speech. This is known as apraxia.
Speech-language pathologists can help kids with oral motor delays to strengthen the oral muscles and practice movements, like puckering the lips, so that the movements can become automatic. They can also address issues relating to food refusal caused by oral motor delays. When kids struggle to push food around their mouths, eating becomes an uncomfortable experience. Working with a therapist can help resolve this.