Alcock, Katherine Jane (2006) The development of oral motor control and language. Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 11 (1). pp. 1-8. ISSN 0968-7912
Motor control has long been associated with language skill, in deficits, both acquired and developmental, and in typical development. Most evidence comes from limb praxis however; the link between oral motor control and speech and language has been neglected, despite the fact that most language users talk with their mouths. Oral motor control is affected in a variety of developmental disorders, including Down syndrome. However, its development is poorly understood. We investigated oral motor control in three groups: adults with acquired aphasia, individuals with developmental dysphasia, and typically developing children. In individuals with speech and language difficulties, oral motor control was impaired. More complex movements and sets of movements were even harder for individuals with language impairments. In typically developing children (21-24 months), oral motor control was found to be related to language skills. In both studies, a closer relationship was found between language and complex oral movements than simple oral movements. This relationship remained when the effect of overall cognitive ability was removed. Children who were poor at oral movements were not good at language, although children who were good at oral movements could fall anywhere on the distribution of language abilities. Oral motor skills may be a necessary precursor for language skills.
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