Presence Learning

Thumbsucking and Speech Difficulties

Kathleen Fahey, Ph.D,CCC-SLP

February 23, 2004

Share:

Question

What effects do use of a pacifier and thumbsucking have on speech difficulties?

Answer

For most children, the use of a pacifier and/or thumb sucking occurs during the early years and is a relatively short-term practice. When of short duration, they typically do not have a significant effect on the development of the oral musculature, the relationship of the dentition and occlusion, or on speech development and production. However, such practices, if persistent across many years may result in a myofunctional condition. That is, the muscles in the front of the mouth (lips and surrounding area) are used, while other muscles (e.g., the masseter) are not as active. In addition, a forward carriage of the tongue may also exist at rest and during swallowing. These factors in combination may lead to a persistent tongue thrust which can further influence the oral muscle development, occlusion, and alignment of teeth.

Tongue thrust, which is a normal swallowing pattern in early childhood should be gradually replaced by a mature swallow. The upper limits of tongue thrust developmentally is age 9. Tongue thrust is often accompanied by occlusal and alignment problems and can also be associated with articulation errors. Sounds that are most often distorted by inaccurate tongue placement include tongue tip sounds /s, z, t, d, l, n/. Other sounds may be distorted if the oral structures are not in proper relationship, such as the case of a high and narrow palatal vault. Bunching of the tongue can effect palatal sounds, such as /S and dz/.

One should exhibit caution when counseling parents on the effects of pacifier and thumb sucking practices. Mild deviations in oral structures have not correlated strongly with speech production problems. A family dentist can determine if the use of the pacifier or thumb is causing structural problems in the dentition and/or occlusion. Tongue thrust behavior (and pacifier and thumb sucking) should decrease with age. If tongue thrust is present, referral to an SLP will result in careful analysis of its presence and how it directly effects speech production. The two problems respond well to intervention.

Bio:
Kathleen Fahey, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is a professor and the chair of the Department of Communication Disorders at the University of Northern Colorado. She is the author of the text ''Language Development, Differences, and Disorders: A Perspective for General and Special Education Teachers and Classroom-Based Speech-Language Pathologists, as well as many articles and presentations. Kathleen teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in phonology and language.


Kathleen Fahey, Ph.D,CCC-SLP


Related Courses

Assessment of Speech Sound Disorders in Children with Cleft Palate &/or VPD
Presented by Angela Dixon, MA, CCC-SLP
Video

Presenter

Angela Dixon, MA, CCC-SLP
Course: #67231 Hour
  'I know WAY more now than I did before :)'   Read Reviews
This is the 1st course in a 4-part series, SSD in Children with Cleft Palate and/or VPD. This course will review the primary components involved in assessing speech sound disorders in children with cleft palate and/or velopharyngeal dysfunction (VPD). Functional tools/techniques will be highlighted with the goal of determining when speech therapy is beneficial and when further medical referrals are necessary. (Part 2: Course 6718, Part 3: Course 6734, Part 4: Course 6733)

Birth to Three - Special Considerations for Speech Sound Disorders in Children with Cleft Palate &/or Velopharyngeal Dysfunction
Presented by Anne Bedwinek, PhD, CCC-SLP
Video

Presenter

Anne Bedwinek, PhD, CCC-SLP
Course: #67181 Hour
  'videos and examples, clear and concise presentation'   Read Reviews
This is the 2nd course in a 4-part series, SSD in Children with Cleft Palate and/or VPD. This course will focus on special considerations needed during the first three years of life for the child born with cleft lip-palate and/or velopharyngeal dysfunction. Emphasis will be placed on referral to and collaboration with a child’s cleft palate-craniofacial team. Principles and techniques will be illustrated for use during the first three years of life. (Part 1: Course 6723, Part 3: Course 6734, Part 4: Course 6733)

Therapy for the Child with Cleft Palate or Velopharyngeal Dysfunction
Presented by Lynn Marty Grames, MA, CCC-SLP
Video

Presenter

Lynn Marty Grames, MA, CCC-SLP
Course: #67341 Hour
  'The speaker was extremely knowledgeable and communicated with participants as professionals, yet also broke information down in an easy to understand way'   Read Reviews
This is the 3rd course in a 4-part series, SSD in Children with Cleft Palate and/or VPD. This course will focus on speech therapy techniques for the child with articulation disorder related to cleft palate or velopharyngeal dysfunction. Practical therapy techniques that can be adapted for children aged 2 through the teen years are included. (Part 1: Course 6723, Part 2: Course 6718, Part 4: Course 6733)

Cleft Palate - What do I hear? What do I do?
Presented by Mary O'Gara, MA, CCC-SLP
Video

Presenter

Mary O'Gara, MA, CCC-SLP
Course: #67331 Hour
  'Interesting course'   Read Reviews
This is the 4th course in a 4-part series, SSD in Children with Cleft Palate and/or VPD. Case studies will be presented to discuss assessment and therapy techniques for individuals with cleft and craniofacial conditions. Audiovisual recordings will be provided to demonstrate speech resonance, airflow control and articulation problems in this population. Therapy goal setting will be discussed, with specific techniques for compensatory articulation strategies. (Part 1: Course 6723, Part 2: Course 6718, Part 3: Course 6734)

Writing and Refining Speech-Language IEP Goals
Presented by Meredith Poore Harold, PhD, CCC-SLP
Video

Presenter

Meredith Poore Harold, PhD, CCC-SLP
Course: #70751 Hour
  'This topic address goals for SLP in all settings'   Read Reviews
This course will help speech–language pathologists to refine their goal-writing skills. Quality speech–language IEP goals will be defined as those that teach students the primary skills for classroom success and that are written in a manner that is both measurable and teachable.