Oral Motor Exercises

Oral Motor exercises are designed to increase the strength, coordination, and range of motion of the muscles we use for feeding and speaking. But how? Oral motor exercises strengthen the muscles of the lips, tongue, and jaw through mass practice. Super Duper Publications provided a great list of at home oral motor exercises.



ο Open and close your mouth _______ times.
ο Pucker your lips as if your were going to give someone a kiss _______ times. ο Smile, then relax your lips and cheeks _______times.
ο Press your lips tightly together, then open them with a smack _______ times. ο Puff your cheeks with air while keeping your lips closed tightly _______ times.


ο Stick your tongue out as far as you can _______ times.
ο Move your tongue to the left side of your mouth then to the right side of your mouth _______ times.

ο Try to touch your chin with your tongue without moving your head _______ times.

ο Try to touch your nose with your tongue without moving your head _______ times. ο Push the inside of your cheek with your tongue on the right side and then on the left side _______times.

ο Place your tongue behind your front teeth and say “la” _______ times. ο Lick your lips _______ times.


ο Open your jaw as wide as you can _______ times.
ο Move your jaw from side-to-side slowly _______ times, then quickly _______ times.

ο Move your jaw up and down slowly _______ times, then quickly _______ times.



Practice Practice Practice

Practice is one of the most important parts of speech therapy! As speech pathologists we only get to see a child or adult once or twice per week (sometimes more but it is rare). What about the rest of the time? Practicing outside of the therapy room is crucial for progress and success. Here are some great practice ideas:

practice in the car…if you practice driving somewhere and driving home that means you already practice two times today!

practice at the super market…there are lots of fun ways to practice at the super market. Find all the foods that start with a certain sounds and say them, group the food into categories to work on language skills, practice following directions by having a child be the “helper”.

practice during TV commercials! There are lots of commercials so there will be lots of time to practice.

The truth is speech therapy twice a week is not enough! You need to practice often to see quick improvement!


“The Story of Luke”- New movie focuses on what Autism is like as an adult!

This week ” The Story of Luke” is released in a limited amount of theaters. It isn’t like the rest of the summer blockbuster movies people are dying to see…but maybe it should be. The story follows Luke, a 25 year old man with Autism whose life is turned upside down after his long term caregiver (his grandma) passes away. The writer/ director Alonso Mayo based the story on life events he saw from his mother’s students. His mother runs a school for children with developmental disabilities in Peru. Mayo says he saw what is was like for his mother’s students to grow up, and all of the things they wanted. He wanted to show a general audience these issues…in an attempt to show Autism from another age perspective. If you aren’t in one of the 14 cities where the movie is being released, it is also currently available on iTunes, amazon on demand, and google play. Here is the trailer…check it out!

– Stephanie

Non-Verbal Girl with Autism Accepted to University…What she said about proving her teachers wrong!

I came across this story on Facebook and had to share it! This is from Carly Fleischmann’s Facebook page. Carly is a non verbal teenager with Autism.  Below is her response to a newspaper article written about her and an introduction from her Facebook page.

So guess the cat is out of the bag! I CARLY FLEISCHMANN someone who is nonverbal have been accepted to university for the fall. I would love to see the look on my kindergarten teachers face. She thought I didnt like her because I didn’t look at her. The moral of this story is that we are all capable.

“This fall, Carly is going to the University of Toronto, having enrolled in Victoria College’s Bachelor of Arts program which has a strong literary tradition. She wants to be a journalist.” Read full story bellow!

Carly Fleischmann: Video about autistic Toronto teen wins international acclaim
A Toronto-made video which depicts the struggles autistic people have to cope with in daily life has won a Cannes Silver Lion award.
By: Valerie Hauch News reporter, Published on Sat Jun 22 2013

It’s pretty simple, getting a cup of coffee in a café: You choose, you ask, you drink.
Unless you’re an autistic person, like Carly Fleischmann, an 18-year-old Toronto student who is non-verbal.
Her world is filled with all sorts of audio input competing for her attention, along with sights and smells — filtering all this and making her wishes known to even family members can be a herculean task. So getting a cup of coffee is not always so simple.
To give a glimpse into Carly’s everyday world, and to show how something so simple for most of us can be so difficult for someone with autism, Carly’s father, Arthur Fleischmann and his Toronto ad company, John St., produced a video, in collaboration and with direct input from Carly — who communicates with her iPad and other technological devices — called Carly’s Café, and posted it on YouTube as well as the website,www.carlyscafe.com. The latter includes some footage from family home movies and starts with a poignant quote from Carly: “Autism has locked me inside a body I cannot control.”
The two-minute 19-second video just won the Silver Lion award in the cyber, public service category at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, held in France. The annual event showcases and judges creativity in communications with 34,000 entrants this year from around the world submitting to various categories.
Last fall, Carly’s Café was used by the president of Poland to open his presentation at the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
Filmed in one day on a low budget of $7,500 at a downtown coffee shop, it features actors playing a father-type figure, a sister and someone with autism. Carly herself appears in the video. There’s also an interactive aspect.
“Through multiple embedded ‘zones’ people can move their mouse around the screen and feel the visual and auditory distraction that most of us could easily block out but which becomes an engulfing hindrance for people like Carly,” says Arthur Fleischmann.
In Carly’s case, when all this distraction is coupled with a lack of speech, “the frustration skyrockets,” he says.
On her Facebook page, where she has 97,000 followers, and where she posts regularly with her iPad, Carly wrote: “Oh my Gosh! Silver Silver Silver. TAKE THAT Ashton Kutcher!”
The video ties in with a 2012 book, Carly’s Voice, Breaking Through Autism, written by Arthur, with a chapter by Carly. Arthur was quite taken by Carly writing about how someone with autism can struggle with something as simple as having a conversation in a coffee shop.
It’s been a long road of discovery and achievement for Carly, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. At the time, no one realized the great potential locked inside the child who could not speak.
But Carly, who had intensive behavioural and communication therapy throughout her childhood, surprised everyone by typing some words at age 10, to indicate a problem she was having at the time. That incredible breakthrough was just the start. She would go on to communicate eloquently with various technological devices, becoming adept at Facebook, Twitter, appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Larry King Live and others, to communicate about autism.
This fall, Carly is going to the University of Toronto, having enrolled in Victoria College’s Bachelor of Arts program which has a strong literary tradition. She wants to be a journalist. Carly’s mother, Tammy Starr, says U of T has gone out of its way to partner with us “to make this work.”
University will be yet another milestone for Carly who has long surpassed the low expectations doctors had long ago given to her parents — that she would never develop intellectually beyond the mental age of a small child.

The website http://carlyscafe.com/ was amazing. I really recommend looking at it. It gave me a new perspective on how someone with Autism sees the world. Really interesting and moving stuff. Enjoy everyone!


What is Turner Syndrome?

Turner Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that is caused by deletion of the second sex chromosome in females. It occurs in 1-2500 births, and is a common characteristic in many miscarriages. According to the Turner Syndrome Society, common physical characteristics for women with turner syndrome:

·        Narrow, high-arched palate (roof of the mouth)
·        Retrognathia (receding lower jaw)
·        Low-set ears
·        Low hairline (the hair on the neck is closer to the shoulders)
·        Webbed neck (excess or stretched skin)
·        Slight droop to eyes
·        Strabismus (lazy eye)
·        Broad chest
·        Cubitus valgus (arms that turn out slightly at the elbows)
·        Scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
·        Flat feet
·        Small, narrow fingernails and toenails that turn up (usually if lymphedema was present at birth)
·        Short fourth metacarpals (the ends of these bones form the knuckles)
·        Edema (swelling or puffiness) of hands and feet; especially at birth

Women with Turner Syndrome have average to normal intelligence. They do have difficulty with  spatial-temporal processing (imagining objects in relation to each other), nonverbal memory and attention. For more info visit the Turner Syndrome Society website at http://turnersyndrome.org/welcome-turner-syndrome-society-us


Interesting Autism Study!

A new study has just been published on the relationship with Autism and the human voice! Here is the abstract:

Underconnectivity between voice-selective cortex and reward circuitry in children with autism.


  1. Daniel A. Abramsa,1,
  2. Charles J. Lyncha,
  3. Katherine M. Chenga,
  4. Jennifer Phillipsa,
  5. Kaustubh Supekara,
  6. Srikanth Ryalia,
  7. Lucina Q. Uddina, and
  8. Vinod Menona,b,c,d,1


Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) often show insensitivity to the human voice, a deficit that is thought to play a key role in communication deficits in this population. The social motivation theory of ASD predicts that impaired function of reward and emotional systems impedes children with ASD from actively engaging with speech. Here we explore this theory by investigating distributed brain systems underlying human voice perception in children with ASD. Using resting-state functional MRI data acquired from 20 children with ASD and 19 age- and intelligence quotient-matched typically developing children, we examined intrinsic functional connectivity of voice-selective bilateral posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS). Children with ASD showed a striking pattern of underconnectivity between left-hemisphere pSTS and distributed nodes of the dopaminergic reward pathway, including bilateral ventral tegmental areas and nucleus accumbens, left-hemisphere insula, orbitofrontal cortex, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Children with ASD also showed underconnectivity between right-hemisphere pSTS, a region known for processing speech prosody, and the orbitofrontal cortex and amygdala, brain regions critical for emotion-related associative learning. The degree of underconnectivity between voice-selective cortex and reward pathways predicted symptom severity for communication deficits in children with ASD. Our results suggest that weak connectivity of voice-selective cortex and brain structures involved in reward and emotion may impair the ability of children with ASD to experience speech as a pleasurable stimulus, thereby impacting language and social skill development in this population. Our study provides support for the social motivation theory of ASD.

How interesting! The study results show that maybe children with ASD have such a difficult time with social cues and interaction because they can not detect the changes and emotions in the human voice! The brains of the children with ASD did not have as many connections between the areas processing prosody and emotions. Since many people often say that kids with ASD have atypical prosody…it makes me wonder if maybe they just can’t hear the changes in people’s voices when their emotions change. Hopefully more research comes out on this soon!


What is dysphagia? Why do Speech Pathologists treat it?

Dysphagia is laments terms is difficulty with swallowing. Dysphagia can occur at any stage of swallowing…below are the phases of swallowing and what should be occurring during a typical swallow.
  • Oral phase – sucking, chewing, and moving food or liquid into the throat
  • Pharyngeal phase – starting the swallowing reflex, squeezing food down the throat, and closing off the airway to prevent food or liquid from entering the airway (aspiration) or to prevent choking
  • Esophageal phase – relaxing and tightening the openings at the top and bottom of the feeding tube in the throat (esophagus) and squeezing food through the esophagus into the stomach

I thought it might be good to have a list of possible dysphagia symptoms…the below list is from the American Speech and Hearing Association:

What are some signs or symptoms of swallowing disorders?

Several diseases, conditions, or surgical interventions can result in swallowing problems.

General signs may include:

  • coughing during or right after eating or drinking
  • wet or gurgly sounding voice during or after eating or drinking
  • extra effort or time needed to chew or swallow
  • food or liquid leaking from the mouth or getting stuck in the mouth
  • recurring pneumonia or chest congestion after eating
  • weight loss or dehydration from not being able to eat enough

Speech pathologists are experts in the anatomy of the speech mechanism…and that includes a majority of the structures that we need to swallow. Most of the muscles we use to eat we also use to talk! If you know someone who is having difficulty eating and swallowing consult with a medical professional asap!