Tongue Thrust Therapy…WT?
Recently we have started looking into braces for one of my children. My expert mother opinion (which as you know really doesn’t mean much), I could see her back teeth were not touching and braces would magically sort this problem out. This is still the case but the story has more than one plot line.
A couple of years ago, one of my sisters commented on my daughter’s speech. She asked me if I noticed her lisp when she talked. Admittedly I had noticed but I didn’t think it was too obvious, so I left the conversation there. This child has always been a little slower in developing and I stupidly innocently thought the problem would rectify itself over time.
I was wrong. After consulting with 2 orthodontists and then a speech pathologist, I have since found out she pushes her tongue forward when she talks and ultimately will require tongue thrust therapy.
So what does Tongue Thrust mean?
Tongue thrust is a term used to describe a method of swallowing, where the tongue pushes forward against or through the front teeth. This way of swallowing is often due to physical factors such as a weak jaw structure or muscles. In my daughter’s case, she has a small upper jaw and weak muscles. Often people with tongue thrust issues have misaligned teeth and speech problems.
I wish I knew this a few years ago when my sister raised her concerns. As a little girl, her little lisp was cute and easily hidden. She has always been a little girl so this is why she has been able to hide it for so many years with only my sister noticing just how strong her lisp was.
How do you help a child with tongue thrust issues?
The tongue needs to be retrained to sit back in the mouth and not push forward. This requires lots of exercise to strengthen the muscles and to learn a new way of swallowing and pronouncing words.
The principal speech pathologist at Box Hill Speech Pathology has created a fantastic program to strengthen the muscles and develop new swallowing and the exciting part is this program can be practiced over Skype. (yes I did say Skype). I do love modern technology.
As my daughter also needs to have her top jaw enlarged with a plate to assist in moving her teeth so they can connect when she eats, we will be working closely with speech therapists to make sure we attain the best result.
If there is one (or five) things I have learnt from this experience:
- Start earlier. Deep down I knew my child had a small speech impediment but I thought it would all sort itself out. Often it doesn’t and the longer you wait, the harder it is on the child.
- Get a second opinion. When it comes to my children, I often get a second opinion, as I am their voice until they tell to me quiet (hopefully that is never).
- Referrals are the best place to start. When you are heading into an area of life you have no experience in, the best and safest place to start is with a referral.
- Go with your gut feeling. Many years ago my daughter was tested for audio processing difficulties as I suspected something wasn’t right. This resulted in realizing struggled with her short-term and her working memory. Speech Pathology can assist with setting out a plan for auditory processing concerns.
- Price is important but it is not the most important thing. Shopping around for a better price can make a difference to your bank balance at the end of the day but just make sure you are getting exactly what you paid for.
Now that I have established that my daughter not only needs braces and a plate, but also will benefit greatly from tongue thrust therapy, I’m off to our next appointment.
Do you have a child that needs to see a speech pathologist?
This post was written in collaboration with Box Hill Speech Pathology – a trusted name in speech pathology for over 20 years. However all thoughts and ideas are my own and at Our Parallel Connection we take all sponsored posts seriously, only accepting those we either use or truly believe in.