Description: Oral-motor training involves massaging or exercising gums, lips, or facial muscles to improve articulation of speech sounds and increase or decrease the sensitivity of the mouth or face to being touched.
Examples: Kaufman Method, PROMPT (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Targets), Rosenfeld-Johnson Method
Research Summary: Some oral-motor therapies such as the Rosenfeld-Johnson Method involve non-speech activities such as blowing horns. Such methods have been described as illogical because they do not involve oral-motor movements needed to support speech, and because preliminary studies suggest that they are ineffective (Lof, 2007). Other therapies such as PROMPT do involve making oral-motor movements along with speech sounds. One small study indicates that an oral-motor therapy, PROMPT, may be efficacious in establishing early language skills in nonverbal children with autism (Rogers et al., 2006). However, no other studies have been reported on the PROMPT Method.
Recommendations: Researchers may wish to conduct studies with strong scientific designs to evaluate Oral-Motor Therapy. Non-speech oral-motor therapies are not recommended at this time. Professionals should present Oral-Motor Therapy that involves speech (e.g., PROMPT) as understudied and encourage families who are considering these interventions to evaluate them carefully.
Selected scientific study:
Rogers, S. J., Hayden, D., Hepburn, S., Charlifue-Smith, R., Hall, T., & Hayes, A. (2006). Teaching young nonverbal children with autism useful speech: A pilot study of the Denver Model and the PROMPT interventions. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36, 1007-1024.
Systematic review of scientific studies:
Lof, G. L. (2007, November). Reasons why non-speech oral-motor therapies should not be used for speech sound disorders. Presentation at the annual meeting of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Boston, MA.