Semin Speech Lang 2008; 29(4): 331-338
DOI: 10.1055/s-0028-1103397
© Thieme Medical Publishers

A Meme's-Eye View of Nonspeech Oral-Motor Exercises

Alan G. Kamhi1
  • 1University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
04 December 2008 (online)


The ideas motivating the use of nonspeech oral motor exercises (NSOMEs) cluster into three memeplexes that reflect the rich history of oral motor and nonspeech activities in speech-language pathology; a bottom-up, discrete skill theory of learning; and common treatment practices. The lack of clinical guidance provided by research also plays a role in the use of NSOMEs. The essence of the oral motor memeplex is the history of oral motor activities in speech-language pathology and the often detailed coverage these activities receive in the most widely read textbooks and publications in our profession. The essence of the discrete skill memeplex is that complex behaviors, like speech production, can be broken down into discrete sequences of processes and behaviors, and the best instruction and intervention involves discrete skills training, bottom-up approaches, task analyses, and developmentally sequenced materials. The clinical practice memeplex reflects a set of common clinical practices that contribute to the use of NSOMEs. These factors include the desire to provide state-of-the art treatment, a preference for broad-based, eclectic treatment approaches, and diverse and engaging activities that offer opportunities for measurable success. There are so many reasons to use NSOMEs that the more interesting question may be why some clinicians (< 15%) do not use these activities.


Alan G Kamhi

University of North Carolina

Greensboro, NC