Nonspeech Oral Movements and Oral Motor Disorders: A Narrative Review

Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2015 Nov;24(4):763-89. doi: 10.1044/2015_AJSLP-14-0179.


Purpose: Speech and other oral functions such as swallowing have been compared and contrasted with oral behaviors variously labeled quasispeech, paraspeech, speechlike, and nonspeech, all of which overlap to some degree in neural control, muscles deployed, and movements performed. Efforts to understand the relationships among these behaviors are hindered by the lack of explicit and widely accepted definitions. This review article offers definitions and taxonomies for nonspeech oral movements and for diverse speaking tasks, both overt and covert.

Method: Review of the literature included searches of Medline, Google Scholar, HighWire Press, and various online sources. Search terms pertained to speech, quasispeech, paraspeech, speechlike, and nonspeech oral movements. Searches also were carried out for associated terms in oral biology, craniofacial physiology, and motor control.

Results and conclusions: Nonspeech movements have a broad spectrum of clinical applications, including developmental speech and language disorders, motor speech disorders, feeding and swallowing difficulties, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, trismus, and tardive stereotypies. The role and benefit of nonspeech oral movements are controversial in many oral motor disorders. It is argued that the clinical value of these movements can be elucidated through careful definitions and task descriptions such as those proposed in this review article.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise
  • Facial Muscles / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Mouth / physiology*
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Phonation / physiology
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Speech Sound Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Speech Sound Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Speech Sound Disorder / therapy