Semin Speech Lang 2008; 29(4): 257-266
DOI: 10.1055/s-0028-1103389
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Task Specificity in Early Oral Motor Development

Erin M. Wilson1 , Jordan R. Green2 , Yana Yunusova3 , Christopher A. Moore4
  • 1Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
  • 2Department of Communication Disorders and Special Education, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska
  • 3Department of Speech-Language Pathology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  • 4National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
04 December 2008 (online)


This article addresses a long-standing clinical and theoretical debate regarding the potential relationship between speech and nonspeech behaviors in the developing system. The review is motivated by the high popularity of nonspeech oral motor exercises (NSOMEs), including alimentary behaviors such as chewing, in the treatment of speech disorders in young children. The similarities and differences in the behavioral characteristics, sensory requirements, and task goals for speech and nonspeech oromotor behaviors are compared. Integrated theoretical paradigms and empirical data on the development of early oromotor behaviors are discussed. Although the efficacy of NSOMEs remains empirically untested at this time, studies of typical developmental speech physiology fail to support a theoretical framework promoting the use of NSOMEs. Well-designed empirical studies are necessary, however, to establish the efficacy of NSOMEs for specific clinical population and treatment targets.


Erin M Wilson

University of Wisconsin-Madison, 446 Waisman Center, 1500 Highland Avenue

Madison WI 53705