I had a friend send me a video of her 10 month old eating puree by spoon. The baby presents with a tongue thrust with some anterior bolus spillage. The baby is currently being treated by PT due to Torticollis, and her PT suggested an SLP feeding evaluation. I treat adult dysphagia, so this is not my area of specialty. Should this Mom seek an eval now at 10 months or wait a few months to see if the tongue thrust diminishes naturally?
Answer: An evaluation will be beneficial now, and would be concerned that without intervention, this atypical oral-motor pattern is unlikely to resolve. It is not uncommon for infants with torticollis to develop associated maladaptive oral-motor patterns and/or to have GER/EER issues that may contribute to adaptive behaviors that unfortunately become maladaptive. We don’t know anything else about this infant (possible medical co-morbidities, potentially pertinent birth or developmental history, prior/early feeding history) which would be informative. Unclear whether he accepts only purees and has this been a pattern from the beginning, how effective his oral-moor skills are with the bottle (which would provide good data to examine), whether the apparent tongue thrust is a refusal behavior (related to GER/EER) or truly a lack of oral-motor skill (perhaps use of tongue extension instead of expected thinning and cupping?) Lots of possibilities that could be explored in an evaluation. This is not typical at this age and is likely to block further development of oral-motor skills and texture progression, and reinforce maladaptive neuro-motor mapping without focused diagnostic therapy.
Keep us posted. Mom is lucky to have you in her corner!