Excessive Drooling in Toddlers & Young Children

Excessive Drooling in Toddlers & Young Children

Why do some children drool excessively?

It is quite normal for children aged 6 -18 months to experience excessive saliva and drooling/dribbling, until oral-motor function is developed. Children aged 4 years and older who still experience drooling, may do so due to Cerebral Palsy, or other neurological impairments. A small group of children, with no other medical condition, may continue to drool up to the age of 6 years. The problem is not normally overproduction of saliva but inefficient voluntary swallowing. These children may not be aware of their dribbling, have difficulties with their sensory systems or oral motor control.

Why is saliva so important?

  •   Saliva lubricates the tongue and lips during speech
  •   Saliva lubricates food to assist with chewing and forming a bolus for swallowing
  •   Saliva cleanses the teeth and gums and assists with oral hygiene
  •   Saliva facilitates taste & regulates acidity in the oesophagus

Strategies to reduce excessive drooling:

  • Teach the concepts of ‘wet’ and ‘dry’.
  • Encourage your child to tap their lips and tell you if their lips are ‘wet’ or ‘dry’.
  • Teach your child to pat dry their lips or to swallow if lips are wet. You might need to model an exaggerated ‘slurpy’ sounding swallow to demonstrate.
  • Praise your child when their lips are ‘dry’ and when your child identifies ‘wet’ lips or chin and swallows.
  • Provide your child with a bib or towelling arm band (depending on the age of the child) to assist in patting lips and chin dry.
  • Play games with the lips to encourage lip closure.
  • Patterned bibs often hide drool more than plain coloured bibs.


It is important to refer children over 4 years of age who dribble excessively to a Speech Pathologist for a thorough investigation of oral motor skills.

Tricia Linstrom  

What is a Receptive Language Delay/Disorder?

What is a Receptive Language Delay/Disorder?

What is Receptive Language?

Receptive language is the ability to understand words and language. It involves gaining information from and understanding the environment, including understanding sounds, visual information, words and instructions.

In young children, receptive language involves understanding concepts such as colour, size, shape, time and grammar.

What is a receptive language delay/disorder?

A receptive language delay/disorder is a learning disorder that affects a child’s ability to understand spoken words and/or expressive language. A receptive language delay can lead to difficulties communicating with others and often presents as academic problems in school age children.

What do receptive language difficulties look like in children?

If your child is experiencing receptive language difficulties they may:

  • be unable to follow directions that other children their age can
  • not answer questions appropriately
  • have difficulty attending & listening to stories
  • not pay attention when sitting in a group
  • respond to questions by repeating what has been said
  • struggle with literacy at school
  • present with behaviour problems

How can I help my child improve their receptive language skills?

  • Use visuals such as pictures or signs to help with understanding.
  • Try to be face to face when talking to your child.
  • Play games, read books, describe what’s happened, sing songs with your child.
  • Limit background noise (turn off the TV), when engaging with your child to limit distractions.
  • Use simple sentences when talking to your child.
  • Be specific with instructions eg. do X then do Y.
  • Observe & engage your child in play & describe what they are doing (your driving the big red truck).


Activities that can help to develop receptive language skills

  • Teach your child a new word everyday – it can be from a book you have read. 
  • Demonstrate & explain new concepts – big /little /fast /slow /under /over.
  • Use dramatic play activities (dress ups, cooking, hospitals) to develop oral and receptive language.
  • Play “Simon Says” – practice giving and following directions, gradually add to the length of the command.
  • Read books to your child everyday – label the pictures, take turns asking questions, try to guess what will happen next
  • Label items in the environment (when driving, gardening, shopping) to expand vocabulary skills.


If your child has difficulties understanding words and following directions, it is recommended they see a Speech Pathologist.

If you have concerns about your child’s receptive language skills, Speech Moves can conduct a comprehensive assessment identifying strengths, weaknesses & goals for intervention if needed.

Contact us today to start your speech pathology journey.


Tricia Linstrom

Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist

Speech Sound Development

Speech Sound Development

Speech Sound Developmental Norms

0 – 3 years:   /m/, /n/, /h/, /p/

2 – 4 years:   /f/, /k/, /g/, /d/, “y”

2 – 8 years:   /w/, /b/, /t/

3 – 4 years:   /s/, /t/

3 – 6 years:   /l/

3 – 8 years:   /ch/, /sh/, “j”

4 – 7 years:   /v/, voiceless “th”

4 – 7 years:   /z/, “zh”, voiced “th”

Although all children develop at different rates, this is the average age that 75% of children achieve accurate speech sound production of specific sounds.

In Australian English, sounds are grouped together based on their place, manner, and voicing.

  1. Place of articulation – where the sound is made?
  2. Manner of articulation – howthe sound is made?
  3. Voicing – is the sound voiced or unvoiced?


Place refers to where a sound is made in the mouth e.g. the ‘b’ sound is made with only the lips.


Manner is the type of sound made. In Australian English, we have the following:

  • Plosives: (or ‘stops’)  /b/, /p’/, /t/, /d/, /k/ and /g/
  • Fricatives:                 /f/, /v/, “th”, /s/, /z/, /sh/, ‘“zh” and /h/
  • Affricates:                /ch/ and /j/
  • Nasals:                     /m/, /n/ and ‘ng’
  • Liquids:                    /l/ and /r/
  • Glides:                     ‘y’ and /w/


Voicing refers to whether the vocal folds vibrate (voiced sound) or not (voiceless sound) when making a sound.

When sounds are emerging, children’s speech production may include omissions (sun – ‘un’), substitutions (cat – ‘tat’) or inconsistent productions. 

Parents can facilitate speech sound development by exposing children to emerging sounds in games and books and naturally providing models when sound substitutions occur (p, p, pop). 

If your child’s speech/sound development is not following the typical developmental path, an assessment by a speech therapist may be needed. Our experienced clinicians are available to answer any questions you may have.

Tricia Linstrom CPSP MSPAA

Adapted from Shriberg’s Order of Speech-Sound Acquisition

Signs & Symptoms of Autism in Babies & Toddlers

Signs & Symptoms of Autism in Babies & Toddlers

What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a lifelong developmental condition characterised by difficulties in social interaction, communication, restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours, and sensory sensitivities.

The word spectrum reflects the wide range of challenges that people on the spectrum experience and the extent to which they may be affected. An estimated 1 in 60 Australians are on the autism spectrum. It is four times more common in boys than girls. Autism is also often characterised by sensory sensitivities.

Early Characteristics of Autism

  •       not babbling– babbling refers to the sounds that babies make before they begin to talk such as vowel and consonant combinations like “ba”, “da”, and “gee”. 
  •     not pointing – such as pointing to ask for things (pointing to the cookie tin up on the shelf) or pointing to get someone’s attention (pointing to an aeroplane flying by). 
  • not showing objects to caregivers – 12-month olds hold up interesting objects and
    show them to their caregivers (as if to say “hey mom, look at this!”). It can be an
    early sign of autism if a child isn’t showing things to people. 
  • lack of other gestures – besides pointing and showing, 12 month old children
    should also be reaching to be picked up, waving, and shaking their head (for “no”). 
  • lack of shared enjoyment – shared enjoyment refers to a child’s desire to interact
    with others, just for the sake of connecting. If a child does not seek out this type of interaction, or rarely smiles or laughs when playing with a caregiver, this is a red flag for autism. 
  • repetitive actions or movements – like spinning a car wheel over and over again, rather than playing with the toy appropriately. Another example would be a child flapping his hands repetitively. Some typically-developing babies do these types of repetitive actions once in a while, but babies with autism demonstrate these actions more often. 
  • poor eye contact – not looking at caregivers when communicating or playing with them. 
  • not following an adult’s pointed finger – not looking in the direction of a caregiver’s finger when he or she points to something. For example, a typical 12- month old will look when their mother points to a toy on the shelf. 
  • paying more attention to objects than people – all children are fascinated with toys and interesting objects. But young children with autism will spend much more of their time with objects than people. 
  • limited play with toys – a young child with autism may only engage with a small number of toys, or play with just a part of the toy (the wheels of the toy car) rather than the whole toy. 
  • not copying actions or sounds – not imitating actions like clapping hands, banging on a drum, or people’s speech sounds. 
  • not responding to his or her name when called. Children with delayed language should have a hearing test to rule out a hearing problem. But young children with autism don’t respond when their name is called even though their hearing is fine. This is due to difficulties with paying attention and understanding language. 

For toddlers between 18 – 24 months:

  • a loss of words, skills, or social connection – this type of regression doesn’t happen with all children with autism. But approximately 20% to 50% of parents of children with autism report that their child lost some of his or her skills during the second year, usually around 18 months of age.

Sensory Processing

Sensory processing is the ability to organise and interpret information we receive through the senses from our own bodies and the environment. This allows us to produce appropriate responses for particular situations.

Many children with Autism have sensory processing issues. Sensory issues vary greatly, but may include a fear of loud noises, bright lights or being touched, overwhelming or confusing sensory experiences or looking intently at interesting visual objects. Sensory difficulties can fluctuate and change.

Tricia Linstrom 




What the research says about Telehealth

Speech Moves offers person-centred Telehealth services utilising current evidence-based practice.

Telehealth intervention is delivered through a platform called ‘Coviu’. ‘Coviu’ is a safe & secure platform that encrypts all audio and video data, ensuring the call cannot be listened to or recorded. Session lengths are dependent on the client’s needs and goals. Families will need a computer, Ipad or digital device with a reliable internet connection.

Current research supports the many benefits of using Telehealth:

  • Telehealth offers families the ability to have more timely, supported and regular access to the Speech Pathologist.
  • Telehealth is a great way to engage with shy clients who may be a little anxious, by incorporating their interests and increasing engagement.
  • Telehealth services enable access for children living in rural and remote areas. 
  • Telehealth services allow for the child’s multidisciplinary team to communicate regularly. 
  • Telehealth services offer a great opportunity to coach families to implement therapy-based activities in the child’s natural environment. 
  • Telehealth services allow regular speech intervention to continue due to any other unforeseen circumstance.
  • Telehealth sessions may incorporate the use of real-time conferencing, telephone,  email, apps, instant messenger, photo’s or audio clips.
  • Telehealth sessions are often supported by the child’s parent, older sibling or carer to achieve optimal engagement from the child.

Speech Moves supports families to critically analyse situations & technology issues to  identify the best fit and use of technology.

Contact us if Telehealth services sound like a good fit for your family.

Tricia Linstrom 

10 Top Tips to Develop Expressive Language Skills

10 Top Tips to Develop Expressive Language Skills

Expressive language involves using gestures, sounds & words to convey meaning to other people. It involves naming objects, describing actions & events, using grammar correctly and asking & answering questions.

  1. Encourage performance sounds during play – When playing use action words and sounds in a meaningful way e.g. ‘brmm brmm’ as you push the car. Accompany these with varied intonations and gestures.

  2. Comment on what your child is doing during play e.g. “ your digging a deep hole”

  3. Leave silences in play this enables your child to initiate a ‘communication’.

  4. Keep your sentences short use 1 and 2 word utterances initially, as your child is more likely to attempt to copy 1 word as opposed to a long sentence of 6 words.

  5. Add on to your child’s productions if your child consistently says a production which you know means ‘drink’, add another word in your response to show your child what they could have said e.g. ‘yummy drink, more drink, big drink’.

  6. Offer your child choices when you are not sure what they want (with or without object prompts). eg. if your child wants a toy – you can say ‘car or ball’.

  7. Expect your child to provide you with an attempt at a word or sound. Encourage your child to give a response and not just take you to the desired object. You may encourage this by verbally asking your child to tell you what they want, by not responding to gestures, getting the wrong object, or giving your child a choice. Ensure you reinforce speech production specifically e.g. ‘great telling Mummy you wanted a ball’.

  8. Read to your child everyday labelling pictures in the book, this increases vocabulary skills.

  9. Engage in pretend play with your child using props eg toy telephones, toy kitchen, shops, puppets etc. Research has shown that dramatic play activities create the most complex language interactions.

  10. Model a range of different word types
    • naming words e.g. car, bottle
    • location words e.g. in, on
    • action words e.g. run, jump
    • describing words e.g. big, little

This enables your child to construct word combinations and form sentences more easily. It is beneficial to model words when your child is attending to the objects or playing with them. Praise all attempts at communication and most importantly, have fun!