Ask A Therapist: Tongue Lateralization

Hi TalkTools,

I completed your training a little over a year ago, but still would like some support when making therapeutic decisions.

I am working with a 12 year old boy who has both language and speech issues (the /r/ and vocalic /r/ phonemes). I just completed a screening and the oral-motor portion of the screening revealed that: a. he could not protrude his tongue straight out of his mouth (it would lateralize), b. his tongue seemed to have a little tremor, c. he had difficulty dissociating his lips/tongue.

I would like to add some Oral Placement Therapy exercises to his therapeutic program. Can you please make some suggestions?

Many thanks,


Hi Wendy,

I have your question and will try to give you some pointer on things to try. If you haven’t worked on the Bite Tubes with this client yet, I would if you identify jaw weakness. The jaw is the foundation for everything else to work properly. Next, I feel he probably has tongue weakness and increased weakness on one side based on your report. I would work on tongue lateralization exercises to the Z-Vibe tip and with the Tongue Tip Lateralization & Elevation Tools bilaterally. You will have to work twice on the weaker side depending on what you see with your assessment. You could also work on straws and horns to help with tongue retraction for the /r/ sound.

Please let me know how this goes or email back any other questions.

Thanks so much,


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 20 Jun 16

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *