Most children naturally begin the transition to a mature swallow at about 12 months, and usually the adult-like swallow is perfected by about 3 years of age.
A tongue thrust is never normal. It is a sign of a larger problem, which we refer to as an “Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder” (OMD).
There are a few potential reasons for a OMD to develop:
-Nasal airway obstruction (including allergies)
-Oral habits, including non-nutritive sucking habits (depending on intensity, duration, and frequency)
-Restrictive lingual frenum (AKA “tongue tie” or “ankyloglossia”)
It is unlikely that a tongue thrust swallow will resolve on its own. After the cause of the OMD is identified and corrected, orofacial myologists re-train the body to do things differently, starting with correcting oral rest posture, which is the springboard for speech and swallowing. After proper oral rest posture is achieved, orofacial myologists focus on re-educating phase 1 of the swallow and ensuring habituation of the new muscle patterns. That’s called “neuromuscular re-education,” “neuromuscular re-programming,” or “muscle memory.”
Source: “Nobody Ever Told Me (Or My Mother) That!” by Diane Bahr