Tongue Strength in Children With and Without Speech Sound Disorders

Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2019 May 27;28(2):612-622. doi: 10.1044/2018_AJSLP-18-0023. Epub 2019 Feb 28.


Purpose The purpose of this cross-sectional investigation was to expand the comparative database of pediatric tongue strength for children and adolescents with typical development, ages 3-17 years, and compare tongue strength among children with typical development, speech sound delay/disorders (SD), and motor speech disorders (MSDs). Method Tongue strength was measured using the Iowa Oral Performance Instrument in a total of 286 children and adolescents, 228 with typical development, 16 with SD, and 42 with MSDs, including classic galactosemia, a known risk factor for MSD ( n = 33) and idiopathic MSD ( n = 9). Results For all groups, tongue strength increased rapidly from 3 to 6.5 years of age and then continued to increase with age at a slower rate until 17 years of age. Children with SD's tongue strength did not differ from their typically developing (TD) peers. Children and adolescents with MSDs had decreased tongue strength compared to children with typical development or SD. Tongue strength was not related to severity of speech sound disorders in SD or MSD. Conclusion Weak tongue strength does not appear to contribute to speech errors in children with speech sound delays but does appear to be related to speech sound disorders that are neurologic in origin (developmental MSD).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Development
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Deglutition
  • Deglutition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Deglutition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Speech Sound Disorder / diagnosis
  • Speech Sound Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Speech Sound Disorder / psychology
  • Speech*
  • Tongue / physiopathology*