Parents often ask: “Why can’t my child’s tongue thrust be treated at school?” When parents discover that a tongue thrust is often treated by a Speech/Language Pathologist (SLP) they assume that the speech therapist at their child’s school has been trained to do therapy with tongue thrust just as they were trained to treat other speech problems. Unfortunately, this is not true. At the present time, there are very few graduate programs of Speech Pathology that even address tongue thrust problems in their courses.
By law, a child can only be seen in the public schools by a speech therapist for an educationally handicapping condition. These conditions fall into five groups: articulation disorders, dysfluency (stuttering), hearing impairment, language, and voice disorders. The school therapist can see a child for an articulation disorder, which is often – but not always – associated with an orofacial myofunctional disorder. But the therapist may or may not have specialized training in orofacial myofunctional disorders. The consumer should be aware of this, and ask questions about the therapist suggesting therapy in the schools – Does this therapist have specialized training, and to what extent? Is this therapist certified in orofacial myology?
Most school districts wisely do not allow their therapists to treat orofacial myofunctional disorders in their schools because they understand that it is primarily a medical, not an educational, disorder. While a tongue thrust is frequently associated with an articulation disorder, your dental professional has referred you to a Certified Orofacial Myologist because your child has a medical problem that can adversely effect his/her dental, and possibly craniofacial development.
Did you know that approximately 80% of all “tongue thrusters” have an airway (respiratory) problem, and the other 20% usually have a detrimental habit, such as thumb sucking? These are clearly medical issues that are best addressed by an experienced professional who specializes in this treatment in a one-on-one therapy setting.
Did you know that usually children are seen in school by the speech therapist in groups of 4-6 children at a time?
Answer submitted by Dianne Fonssagrives, MS, CCC-SLP, COM