Kalamazoo Speech Associates

         
 
     
Center for Myofunctional and Speech-Language Therapy    

What is a myofunctional disorder?

With myofunctional disorder, the most common characteristic is that the  tongue moves forward in an exaggerated way during speech and/or swallowing. The tongue may lie too far forward during rest or may protrude between the upper and lower teeth during speech and swallowing, and at rest.

 

What are some signs or symptoms of a myofunctional disorder?

Although a reverse swallow is normal in infancy, it usually decreases and disappears as a child grows. If the reverse swallow continues, a child may look, speak, and swallow differently than other children of the same age. Older children may become self-conscious about their appearance.

 

What effect does a myofunctional disorder have on speech?

Some children produce sounds incorrectly as a result of a myofunctional disorder.  A myofunctional disorder most often causes sounds like /s/,/z/, "sh", "zh", "ch" and "j" to sound differently. For example, the child may say "thumb" instead of "some" if they produce an /s/ like a "th". Also, the sounds /t/, /d/, /n/, and /l/ may be produced incorrectly because of weak tongue tip muscles. Sometimes speech may not be affected at all.

 

How is a myofunctional disorder diagnosed?

A myofunctional disorder is often diagnosed by a team of professionals. In addition to the child and his or her family or caregivers, the team may include:

  • a dentist

  • a dental hygienist

  • an orthodontist

  • an ear nose and throat doctor

  • a speech-language pathologist (SLP)

  • a physician

Both dentists and orthodontists may be involved when constant, continued tongue pressure against the teeth interferes with normal tooth eruption and alignment of the teeth and jaws. Physicians rule out the presence of a blocked airway (e.g., from enlarged tonsils or adenoids or from allergies) that may cause forward tongue posture. SLPs assess and treat the effects of a myofunctional disorder on speech, rest postures, and swallowing.

 

What treatment is available for individuals with a myofunctional disorder?

A clinician with experience and training in the treatment of a myofunctional disorder will evaluate and treat the following:

  • open-mouth posture

  • speech sound errors 

  • swallowing disorders 

Clinicians develop a treatment plan to help a child change his or her oral posture and articulation, when indicated.

 

Treatment techniques to help both speech and swallowing problems caused by a myofunctional disorder may include the following:

  • increasing awareness of mouth and facial muscles

  • increasing awareness of mouth and tongue postures

  • improving muscle strength and coordination

  • improving speech sound productions

  • improving swallowing patterns 

If airways are blocked due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids or allergies, speech treatment may be postponed until medical treatment for these conditions is completed. If a child has unwanted oral habits (e.g., thumb/finger sucking, lip biting), speech treatment may first focus on eliminating these behaviors.

Myofunctional Services

Evaluation and treatment services are also available for the following myofunctional disorders:

Thumb/Finger Sucking

Other Detrimental Oral Habits

Reverse Swallow Pattern

Myofunctional Therapy

Thumb/Finger Sucking

Speech Therapy

Language Therapy

Pragmatic Language

Social Skills Groups