Cerebral Palsy & Oral Motor Function

Cerebral Palsy & Oral Motor Function

Last week I published a post about the symptoms of Cerebral Palsy. In it, we discovered that the signs and symptoms of Cerebral Palsy differ and that they vary from person to person. I noted in that post that while I had at least a few bullet points under every sign for CP that CerebralPalsy.org stated, I fall short of actual symptoms. But upon further research and thinking about my own experience, I realized I have a bit more to offer.

Let’s talk about oral motor function. Again, taking my information from CP.org (linked above) their website tells us that problems with oral motor function are present in about 90% of pre-school aged children diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and that problems with oral motor function may include: speaking, swallowing, drooling, and feeding and chewing.

In my opinion, (you may take this lightly being that I am the person who has to experience this), the extent to which I suffer from these oral afflictions is pretty severe. However, contradictory to my last sentence, I do not suffer from any speech issues, I do not drool, or have any significant trouble swallowing in most cases (we will come back to this). My issues mainly lie in the feeding and chewing department.

As I write before you as a 21-year-old woman today, I can tell you that:

  1. The dentist is an absolute nightmare for me, even for something as simple as a cleaning I am reduced to that of a child. (This does not even begin to explain how awful the experience is, I will do anything to avoid going to the dentist, I don’t know how I made it through having braces.)
  2. I have never consumed water, bottled or tap. I will only drink carbonated water or something with flavor. I am also a VERY picky eater.
  3. I absolutely hate anything being put in my mouth I don’t have control over. It really freaks me out, this probably explains my problems with the dentist.
  4. I have a severe vomit phobia. If I even hear someone cough for an extended period of time, I get extremely nervous. I can’t even put into words what it feels like when I vomit myself.
  5. I do this strange thing after I eat that involves me pushing my tongue hard against the roof of my mouth, it usually makes me feel very sick. I don’t know why I do it, but I can’t stop and have been doing this for as long as I can remember.

I gave you all of these examples so you can imagine the situation because it is difficult to explain what the sensations I feel during each of these things, feels like. It kind of feels like a sensory overload, an intense feeling of extreme fear that leads to nausea. I’ve brought these things up to my doctor (though now I’m thinking I need to show her this post because I don’t think I explained my feelings well enough the first time), and it seems that there’s not much you can do to lessen these feelings other than addressing it and trying to desensitize yourself.

There are food therapies, however, if your child downright refuses to eat or cannot seem to eat. I encourage parents to be on the lookout for this kind of thing no matter how small or normal the issue may seem. My doctors were unaware that I was struggling with this type of thing for a number of years until I was able to tell them myself.

Do you or someone you know have these or similar issues? Comment down below!

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Hello, My name is Brittney and I am a columnist with Cerebral Palsy. I focus on writing about lifestyle and believe that everyone's experience is relevant, no matter the disability. I support, and advocate for, the mainstreaming and normalization of children with disabilities and their families, as well as advocating for parents and children who need to go the more specialized route. I hope that my content provides a positive reinforcement that it is possible to live a happy and fulfilled life even with a disability.

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