It’s a beautiful place in the [speech sound] neighborhood!
Has your tongue found its favorite place to live?
If it hasn’t already, the speech sound neighborhood is where you can find it! This neighborhood is at the roof of your mouth about ½ an inch behind your front four teeth on a little hill with small bumps. This is also known as “the spot” or alveolar ridge.
The entire tongue, both front and back portions, rest gently on the roof of your mouth when you are not talking or eating. While the tongue is up at it’s home, your jaw and teeth are gently resting apart while breathing through your nose. Take a look at this picture to see what I am talking about!
Why is it called the speech sound neighborhood?
Speech-language pathologist and researcher, Char Boshart, calls it the speech sound neighborhood because your tongue moves vertically to touch this spot (i.e., alveolar ridge) to produce most sounds during connected speech. It is also the most optimal spot to produce the following sounds: /d, t, n, l, s, z, sh, ch, j/. Say this sentence slowly: “Danny danced in the sunshine”. What do you notice about your tongue? Does it go up and down? What part of your mouth does it touch? **Hint – You’ll notice it moves up to touch the spot right behind your front teeth when saying /d, n, s, sh/ and horizontally for the “th” in “the”.
Why is it so important for your tongue to rest at the roof of your mouth?
Just like any person or animal, finding the perfect home is an essential part of life. It makes us feel safe, comfortable and good inside. Your tongue feels this way too. Let’s find out why…
- The tongue acts as a natural palate expander. It helps form and sustain the shape of the roof of your mouth. This can reduce teeth crowding or crooked teeth.
- The speech sound neighborhood is here! The tongue is in its most optimal position with the sides of the back tongue stabilized on the insides of the top back teeth and the tip of the tongue is ready for rapid vertical and horizontal movements during connected speech.
- When you swallow, your tongue starts by suctioning against the roof of the mouth while pushing up on the alveolar ridge. It pushes against the roof of the mouth in a wave-like motion to send the food down the esophagus and into the stomach.
- It promotes nasal breathing. Learn about the advantages of nasal breathing.
You and your child can learn more about correct tongue resting position while reading a fun and educational book called “Tucker the Tongue Finds His Spot” by Joy Moeller.