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This one is about: Questions About Early Speech Therapy


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Question:

They want to start Bug on seeing a speech pathologist within the next couple of weeks (he's 4 months old tomorrow). I thought it was kinda early but they said that they want to see how he's using his mouth, how he's making noise, how much air he's exchanging, how he uses his tongue, how he sucks, etc., etc.

Anyone ever hear of this so early? I kinda figure that it can't hurt -- so go for it. Any input is greatly appreciated!

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Answers:

Oh, yes, yes, yes. That's exactly what Justine goes through. Before Justine started speech by about 6 months, she had feeding clinic and they did some of those things in there, too, not limited to just eating. A lot of it has to do with they way they eat. They showed me how to move the spoon around to encourage her to move her tongue from side to side. Even put food on the side of her mouth to encourage her to stick her tongue out to remove it. Now she's learning how to blow on whistles and blow bubbles, blow on tissues, anything to encourage her to blow. So far see just exhales with a noise ;~).

While our regular speech therapist is on maternity leave a nurse has been coming to our house twice a month. She comes at lunch time to watch her eat (she even brings her own goodies - juice box, treats) then she gets out all the different toys like bubbles, whistles, those vibrating teethers, etc. They watch her play, watch her eat.

They've done things like if she starts to dribble after taking a drink they'll put their finger under her bottom lip to encourage her to close her mouth after taking a swallow. She learns fast. She was really weak in the lips in the beginning but she's doing really well now. They are really proud of her, they say so all the time. But they always do have an exercise to work on. I give them a lot of credit for her successes. They've really shown us a lot.

You'll enjoy it. I do and so does Justine (Vincent does too because he gets to play with their toys). She usually lasts the whole entire hour. There is so much more to Speech Therapy you won't believe it. It is really fascinating.

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Yes, this is a common tack. I almost think they should have a different name for it because 'speech therapy" for an infant sounds so silly. Maybe "oral training" or something would be better. A child begins to learn to speak from the moment of birth. Starting with hearing, orienting to sound, listening, using specific cries for specific needs, sucking (or trying to suck) cooing, gurgling, babbling, gnawing, chewing, mouthing objects, directing airflow -- all of these are pre-speech behaviors that help to develop the speech muscles, so when that greatest of all speech muscles (the brain) is ready to kick it into gear, everything else is ready too.

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James saw a speech therapist as early as 6 weeks old! Back then it was mostly to help with the feeding issues. As he got older, and I think it was when he was around 3 or 4 months, we too got started on all that stuff you mentioned (oral motor skills, what muscles they're using, stimulation etc.).

I guess we kind of looked at it as pre-speech therapy, and I think every little bit can only help. Good Luck!


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