Semin Speech Lang 2008; 29(4): 276-283
DOI: 10.1055/s-0028-1103391
© Thieme Medical Publishers

The Role of Strength Training in Speech Sound Disorders

Heather M. Clark1
  • 1Department of Language, Reading, and Exceptionalities, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
04 December 2008 (online)


Strengthening of the articulators is commonly used to help children improve sound production accuracy, even though the relationship between weakness and speech function remains unclear. Clinicians considering the use of strength training must weigh both the theoretical foundations and the evidence supporting this practice. Widely accepted principles of strength training are available to guide the evaluation of strength training programs. Training specificity requires that exercises closely match the targeted functional outcome. The exercises must overload the muscles beyond their typical use, and this overload must be systematically progressed over time. Finally, the strength training program must incorporate adequate time between exercise sessions to allow for recovery. The available research does not support the position that nonspeech oral motor exercises (NSOMEs) targeting increased strength is beneficial for improving speech accuracy. An example of a speech-based strengthening program is provided to illustrate how appropriate training principles could lead to more positive outcomes. A much larger body of research is needed to determine the conditions under which strength training is most appropriately applied in the treatment of childhood speech disorders.


Heather M Clark

Department of Language, Reading, and Exceptionalities, Appalachian State University

Boone, NC 28608