Sandra: I am contacting you regarding a referral I have received for a tongue sucker. Do you have any advice or information to offer in helping this adult female? Thank you for your time,,
Hi, There is no easy help for an adult (or child) tongue sucker. That’s where psychology has to be incorporated. As with all noxious oral habits, you want to work first on Awareness:
- Is she usually aware of doing it? Occasionally? Rarely? You have to work out something for her to do when she catches herself and she has to report to you the frequency and duration of her usual daily habit of tongue sucking. Once she knows the frequency and duration, you can proceed.
- Secondly, she must tell you all the reasons she wants to quit that habit. I would have her put them in writing for most effectiveness.
- Select a time to begin when she has the most opportunity to devote attention to eliminating her habit. (Not when she is having visitors, excessive stress, etc.)
- Create activities within your ongoing myo program that are added into or onto current exercises or practice periods during the day. Example: If she were doing certain of my program’s tongue exercises, I would have her repeat a sentence prior to each repetition that relates to her goal of not sucking the tongue. (that idea just came to mind as an example, but you can be creative as needed). Carry through additional activities along with her “regular” therapy program. Have her help create a positive reinforcement method along with you. Use some of the ideas in the following paragraph as well.
- If she is not already in a myo program and her main reason for seeing you is to eliminate the tongue sucking habit, you have to be more formal in this situation. Do an evaluation. Have ready some materials or info about sucking habits. Use your case history/intake form as an opportunity to determine her awareness, willingness to quit, expectation of difficulties quitting, etc. Choose a period of time, usually 10 days works well, wherein she will completely quit the habit. Depending upon how subconscious the habit it, you will have to have more or fewer times during her day that she does various activities related to quitting.
- I would base my program on her personality; if she is a fun-loving person and likes doing some of the same things that kids enjoy (I am that type, for sure!), then go that direction…charts, other reminders, etc. If she is not as fun-loving, incorporate activities into her work schedule such as emailing you twice daily at certain times to let you know the frequency or lack thereof of the sucking habit each of the ten days.
- Imbed into her that she WILL be able to quit within ten days, and perhaps will even quit on day one since she has finally made this decision and is seeing you for guidance.
In general, I use the same steps as I do in Unplugging The Thumb kit. I just make it more palatable for adults! I hope this helps some. With kids, there is less flexibility, but with adults we have to include them in setting up the program. Sandra