Ask a Therapist: Significant Tongue Thrust Swallow Pattern and Tongue Protrusion


I have a 13 month old with Down syndrome who has a significant tongue thrust swallow pattern and tongue protrusion. Her tongue is ALWAYS out of her mouth, far. Almost as if she is intentionally pushing it all the way out. She retracts her tongue when I place a straw in the corner of her mouth, place a puff on her molar ridge (and will maintain tongue lateralization for a short period), and when I place the elephant jiggler in her mouth. As soon as she attempts to control the puff with her tongue or swallow, her tongue pushes forward again. I can prompt her to retract her tongue at rest but it comes right back out. What else can I do? I only get to see her one time per month at this point. Mom sits in on sessions and carries over at home. Pediatrician and ENT have no concerns about size of tonsils; I have not observed them myself yet.


Hi Aubrie,

It sounds like you have been working really hard with this patient to address the tongue retraction.  Everything you are already doing sounds great.  I would add bubble blowing, horn blowing and chewing on the back molars (with cubes of food if able, z-vibe and the bite tubes). All of this will encourage tongue retraction in the mouth. The more you can work on the retraction the better.

I hope this helps.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.


Elizabeth J. Smithson, M.S.P., CCC-SLP

Elizabeth Smithson, MSP, CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist who has over 10 years of professional experience working with infants, children, adolescents and adults. She earned her Master of Speech Pathology at the University of South Carolina. Liz is also a Level 5 TalkTools® Trained Therapist. She has received specialized training in Oral Placement Therapy, Speech, Feeding, Apraxia, Sensory Processing Disorders, and PROMPT©. Liz works with clients with a wide range of disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy.  She works through her own private practice Elizabeth Smithson Therapy, LLC in the home setting and in the TalkTools® office in Charleston, SC.

Talktool admin 02 Mar 17

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