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Could Poor Jaw Control Be Impacting Your Child’s Speech?

Lips never touch? Constant drool? It all comes back to jaw control. When we have limited ability to control our jaw you might see things like open mouth posture, drool, and delays in producing sounds like p, b, m, f, v, s and z.

It’s also important to note that the only jaw movement that we should have is up and down. Our jaw should never move left to right or down then right then up. TRY IT AT HOME: Take your pointer finger like you’re counting to one and place your middle finger right next to it. The width of your two fingers together is the widest your mouth should EVER be open. It’s the same for any person and their two fingers.


Make a “thumb’s up” gesture then point your first finger outward. Now move this hand position to your child’s face with their chin resting between your thumb and first finger. Your thumb and index finger should be firm along the jaw. This can be used to support the jaw. I often move my middle finger under the chin for additional support. This will be our basic hand position to help jaw movement.

Common Problems with the Jaw

1. Poor Neutral Resting Position

when at rest, your jaw and lips should be closed (unless mouth breathing). If your child’s jaw is not closed at rest or while not speaking, you can use your hands to help. Using the HHP, when you notice your child’s mouth is open, assist them in closing their jaw with the verbal cue, “Close your mouth.” Be gentle when moving the jaw upward as to not click their teeth together. If they tolerate this movement, attempt to hold their jaw closed 3-5 seconds. The end goal would be closed jaw and lips when not speaking.

2. Lateral Movement

Our jaw should never move left to right. Using the HHP, when you notice your child’s mouth moving left to right, assist them in keeping their jaw movement up and down vs. left and right with the verbal cue, “Up and down, no wiggle jaw.” It might require you to maintain hold on their jaw to prevent movement left to right. When using the HHP – have your kiddo say single words first, then try to reduce the support you give with the HHP, and then move to two-word phrases.

3. Too Many Degrees of Freedom

As mentioned above, your mouth should never be open more than the width of your two fingers. When your mouth is open wider than two finger widths, it is called, “too many degrees of freedom.” Using the HHP, gently guide your child’s mouth open as it moves naturally, without it opening more than two finger widths. When using the HHP – have your kiddo say single words first, then try to reduce the support you give with the HHP, and then move to two-word phrases.

Note: When using the HHP, try to reduce the amount of support given- like reducing the amount of pressure you give with your hand, or eventually having them try it out without your help. Practice in single words first, then two-word phrases, and up!

Good luck!

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Patient Reviews

LLA Therapy

Patient Reviews

Crystal Scheibe

Great place, glad we found them. Been going to Medina over 2 months now and he loves Lauryn and Kyler. Wish they had more ABA therapy places available... live in Wooster and long drive everyday.

Karrie Swan LaRock

My 11 year old son has dyslexia and has made noticeable gains in working At LLA THERAPY. Katie is strong in her approach toward him and also keeps him comfortable enough to perform well. We will continue visiting both the Fairlawn and Hudson offices and recommend them highly.

Ron Monroe

My 9 year old just completed about 9 months of weekly speech sessions (due to his stuttering) with Matt Hagge at LLA and we are thrilled with the experience and results. What I thought might be a negative (what kid really wants to go to speech class?) was made very positive by Matt, and my son never hesitated or complained when we talked about class. He really enjoyed it and really took what Matt taught him to heart. His speech has been greatly improved and we definitely recommend LLA. Thank you so much!

Heather Dougherty-Pantoja

My son’s Occupational Therapist, Jess, is an amazing OT! She gives practical tips on working with my son at home and school!

Terri Apgar

I cannot say enough good things about LLA Therapy. My daughter was a client of Teal Simmons’ for approximately 2 years and was just released from speech therapy! She was diagnosed with Apraxia in 2015 and worked with Teal twice a week. Through Teal’s application of PROMPT therapy, my daughter had age-appropriate speech after one year. All of the staff we interacted with at LLA were absolutely wonderful. They really care about what they do and making sure your child achieves their goals.

Kelli Geisler Davisson

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for my son as well as my family! My son always asks, "When can I go see Ms. Jeannine again, is it Monday??" He has also made huge gains in only 5 months! I would highly recommend LLA and have already shared my experience with friends looking for services!

Victoria Hansford-Price

We are so grateful for our Speech Therapist Ms.Teal. We have seen a great improvement with our sons confidence and communication abilities since we have started "Prompt" therapy. What we love the most about LLA and Ms. Teal is that Kohl feels comfortable and relaxed which has played a critical role in his progress. Thank you Ms. Teal for all you have done.

Laura Lee Hogsett

They have helped in numerous ways. Speech, OT and behavioral. I've had numerous compliments on my son's progress thanks in very large part to LLA. I would recommend LLA before I recommend our local children's hospitals, though they are good, they don't have the staff that LLA does.

Amy Furukawa

We had a great experience with Matt Hagge at LLA! Our Middle School age son was becoming very conscious of his voice, which is nasal due to a cleft palate. Matt helped him to better form his sounds and project his voice in a way that makes the unavoidable nasality less noticeable.Our son is more confident and outgoing & even took on a speaking role in the church play. Matt has the perfect personality to relate with our son, and we would recommend him to anyone needing speech therapy services!

Jessica Havalotti

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for our daughter. I would highly recommend LLA. Miss Grace was so amazing and I can't believe how quickly our daughter showed improvement. Thank you!
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