Thumb Sucking: What the Speech- Language Pathologist NEEDS to Know

I’m sure as an SLP you have been in the position I was in earlier this summer.
I was working with a patient who had a lisp. It wasn’t necessarily always interdental (i.e. tongue sticking through his teeth), but his /s/ and /z/ sounds just didn’t sound crisp. I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my job, so I needed to learn more.
Through google searches, I then luckily discovered the field of orofacial myology.In particular, I read about Sandra Holtzman. Seeing that her 28 hour ceu course addressed lisps of all types, I decided to take the plunge. I am SO glad that I did. As a disclaimer, I am not receiving any financial compensation from her company for telling you this. I am simply writing about this experience because as a speech therapist, it completely changed how I was viewing and treating my patients for the better. If you ever get the chance to attend her course, don’t hesitate. It was some of the best money I have ever spent on my continuing education.
I came back from this course with the knowledge that I wasn’t asking a VERY important question when my kids with lisps were being evaluated. In particular, I wasn’t asking about any oral habits that could negatively be impacting speech. It surprised me just how many of my school aged children were still sucking their thumbs.
This MUST be addressed if you’re going to be successful at correcting a lisp. Sandra has an awesome program that I ended up buying called “Unplugging The Thumb”, which you can purchase here.

I highly recommend this program because it utilizes positive reinforcement and having the child’s “permission” to start the program. In addition, the child also gets to have this special friend:

My takeaway point here is that you must first address oral habits, such as thumb sucking, in order to have success treating a lisp. Don’t forget to check out Sandra’s website by clicking here, and the International Association of Orofacial Myology by clicking here to learn more information. Referring to an orofacial myologist before starting your treatment program is a great option to get your student or patient READY for success in speech therapy!

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