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Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Tongue Thing Explained

For months, about 7 or so, Julia has only eaten things that require little to no chewing. When it is something that does actually require chewing, it is usually something that softens as soon as it enters her mouth, due to saliva(such as a cracker or Cheerios). When she does actually chew, it is with her front teeth, never her back or even her side.

I was thinking originally that this might be some sort of a "thing" she was going through but a few other things have come up that make me wonder.

The first thing, and I am going to try and find a picture (or take one) to post so you can see exactly what I mean, is what I referred to as "the tongue thing". She almost always has her tongue resting forward, inbetween her top and bottom lips, when she is not eating or talking (like say if she is just sitting there playing with a toy, watching tv, or laying down to go to bed).

Last summer, when we were over visiting at my parents pool, my mother's friend (who is a nurse) noticed Julia doing it, and said that kids who do that most of the time have allergies. We didn't elaborate any further or get in to any discussion over it, just kind of left it at that.

Over the past, say 6 months Julia has been showing signs of having allergies...constantly congested, frequent colds, etc. She also tends to breathe with her mouth open a lot. I mentioned to Ryun that she may have allergies and that I would probably mention it at her next pediatrician visit in July.

So, I started to put this all together...no eating foods that require chewing, the tongue thing, the likely possibility of allergies, and even the speech delay (that she has long since overcome).

So, you know, like any other computer literate person, I went to the internet and searched things like "tongue disorders and allergies" or, my favorite "resting tongue between lips" (you can imagine some of the sites that came up with this combination of words). Anyway, I came up with a group of disorders called, "Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders" with which the tongue moves forward in an exaggerated way during swallowing, talking or at rest.

What causes an OMD?

Why allergies, of course (one of the causes anyway).

Here is a block of test from the American Speech Language and Hearing Association website:

Some problems with functioning of mouth or face muscles are caused by environmental factors such as allergies. For children with allergies, it is often difficult to breathe normally through the nose because of nasal airway blockage. These children often breathe with their mouths open, tongues lying flat on the bottom of their mouths. Lip muscles may lose their strength and tone if an open mouth posture continues for a long time.

Enlarged tonsils and adenoids may also block airways, creating an open-mouth breathing pattern. An open-mouth breathing pattern, or the appearance of an open-mouth breathing pattern, can become habitual and continue even after successful medical treatment of the airway blockage.

Another block of text, discussing the effects and who is involved in treating the person with an OMD:

The team of professionals traditionally involved with the treatment of OMD includes a dentist, an orthodontist, a physician and a speech-language pathologist. Dentists are concerned when the pressure of the tongue against a child's gums interferes with the normal process of tooth eruption. Both dentists and orthodontists may be involved when constant, continued tongue pressure against teeth interferes with normal tooth eruption and alignment of the teeth and jaws. Physicians rule out the presence of a blocked airway (e.g., from enlarged tonsils or adenoids or from allergies) that may cause forward tongue posture. Speech-language pathologists assess and treat the effects of OMD on speech, rest postures, and swallowing.

It's weird how it all connects. I just thought the tongue thing was a comfort technique for her, since she never wanted a pacifier as an infant and never sucked her thumb or her fingers or whatever then, or now.

What started off as a mild concern that she may have allergies has turned in to something I think I will investigate further.

To be honest, I was starting to get a little concerned about her nutrition. That, and the doctor always seems slightly concerned about her weight (she only weights 23 lbs and is almost 2...she hasn't even come close to tripling her birth weight, 9 lbs 2.2 oz, in 2 years, let alone one year, which is " what's considered "normal").

She can't spend her life eating baby food and yogurt.

She doesn't have a big appetite, and never really has. When she does eat, she never finishes a full serving of whatever it is she is eating and she doesn't want to eat often at all.

I can't help but wonder if the lack of eating and lack of variety might be hindering her muscle tone growth? It just seems like a better appetite and a bigger variety might help in that respect as well.

1 comment:

Caltechgirl said...

get a referral to a good pediatric allergist. Especially one who has seen OMD before.