Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder (OMD)

Dr. Brenda K. Gorman, Contributing Author

The scope of speech-language pathology is so vast that it is challenging to thoroughly cover all disorders in graduate school. Orofacial myofunctional disorder is an area that many SLPs would like to learn more about.

What is OMD?

According to ASHA, OMD refers to “any pattern involving oral and/or orofacial musculature that interferes with normal growth, development, function of structures, or calls attention to itself.

What are the signs of OMD?

The International Association of Orofacial Myology indicates several signs that might be symptomatic of OMD. When the mouth is in rest position, the child may display habitual mouth breathing, parted lips (referred to as lip incompetence), forward tongue carriage and excessive tongue contact with the teeth (referred to as tongue thrust). The child may be particularly messy or drool when eating. When swallowing, the child may display tongue thrust, facial grimacing, gulping, and/or head bobbing upon completion of the swallow. The child may experience stomach discomfort due to inadequately chewed food. Lip tone may appear flaccid. The child may also appear to have a long face due to extended facial growth.

What are problems associated with OMD?

Oral myofunctional disorder contributes to improper orofacial development, dental growth, and misalignment of the teeth and jaw. The majority of children with OMD also have speech distortions and/or misarticulations, most noticeably on alveolar, palatal, and liquid phonemes. Speech therapy alone is often insufficient to remediate articulation errors that are related to OMD; orofacial myology treatment may also be necessary.

Who is qualified to treat OMD?

In these cases, treatment should be delivered by a professional with specific training in OMD. The International Association of Orofacial Myology provides a referral list of professionals, such as SLPs, dentists, and other health professionals, who have attained specific training and certification in this area. The goal of orofacial myology treatment is to improve muscle tone and posture to promote normal growth, development, and function, and research indicates that treatment is indeed effective.

For more information, see the following websites on OMD:

www.iaom.com/index.html

www.asha.org/SLP/clinical/Orofacial-Myofunctional-Disorders/

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About Brenda K. Gorman

Dr. Gorman is an Associate Professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois. She completed her Master’s and Doctorate with a multicultural/bilingual specialization in Communication Sciences and Disorders at The University of Texas at Austin. Brenda worked for many years as a bilingual (Spanish-English) speech-language pathologist serving diverse caseloads for public school districts, early intervention agencies, and a company which she co-founded in 2001. She has an extensive background in working with ELLs and providing professional development to teachers who work with ELLs, and she serves as a clinical advisor to Lingua Health and Grupo Lingua. Brenda has conducted research, published, and presented on topics related to speech and language assessment and intervention in bilingual populations and language and literacy development and disorders. She has taught courses in numerous topic areas ranging from assessment and intervention in bilingual populations, child language and literacy disorders, speech sound disorders, fluency, to adult language disorders and AAC. She co-directed the Reading Acquisition for Spanish Speakers Program (RASPA) and an Early Reading First (ERF) project funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education while at Marquette University, where she earned tenure in 2013. Brenda is now at Elmhurst College, where she is investigating language and literacy assessment and intervention in bilinguals and co-developing a dual-language (Spanish-English) language and literacy curriculum for preschoolers.

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