The objective rating of oral-motor functions during feeding

Dysphagia. Summer 1995;10(3):177-91. doi: 10.1007/BF00260975.


The Schedule for Oral Motor Assessment (SOMA) was developed to record oral-motor skills objectively in infants between ages 8 and 24 months postnatal. Its aim is to identify areas of dysfunction that could contribute to feeding difficulties. The procedure takes approximately 20 min to administer, and is intended to be rated largely from a videorecording of a structured feeding session. A series of foodstuffs of varying textures, including liquids, is presented to the child in a standardized manner. Oral-motor skills are evaluated in terms of discrete oral-motor movements. The schedule distinguishes these from skills at more aggregated levels of functioning such as jaw, lip, and tongue control. A total of 127 children have been studied with the instrument, including normal healthy infants and samples with nonorganic failure to thrive, and cerebral palsy. Interrater and test-retest reliabilities were determined on a subset of 10 infants who each took part in three trials rated by 2 therapists. Excellent levels of interrater reliability (kappa > 0.75) were obtained for the presence/absence of 69% of discrete oral-motor behaviors. Test-retest reliability was similarly excellent for 85% of ratable behaviors. For the first time an assessment of oral-motor functioning has been shown to have adequate reliability for children aged 8-24 months. The validation of the SOMA on a large sample of normally developing infants and its application to clinical groups is presented in an accompanying paper [1].

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bottle Feeding
  • Breast Feeding
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebral Palsy / physiopathology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drinking
  • Eating*
  • Failure to Thrive / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food
  • Lip / physiology
  • Mandible / physiology
  • Motor Skills*
  • Mouth / physiology*
  • Movement
  • Observer Variation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tongue / physiology
  • Video Recording