Boy Believed to Be Nonverbal Can Speak After Dentist Finds He’s ‘Tongue-Tied’

May 19, 2019 Updated: June 18, 2019

A Texas boy who was thought to be nonverbal can now speak after a dentist discovered that he was tongue-tied.

Mason Motz, 6, was born with a rare genetic condition known as Sotos syndrome, which includes a distinctive facial appearance, growing too much in childhood, delayed development, and other impairments.

“Since birth, he’s had delays and issues,” Meredith Motz, his mother, told Inside Edition.

“He’s been in speech therapy since he was a little over 1 year old,” Motz said. “Sleeping was always stressful. He would stop breathing. He had trouble eating and swallowing; every single meal we would have to remove something that was choking him. He didn’t get the nutrition he needed. His teeth started having problems.”

After about five years, however, his parents took him to a dentist who specializes in treating children with special needs.

“We did detect a tongue-tie,” Dr. Amy Luedemann-Lazar at Kidstown Dental in Katy, Texas, told the news outlet. “Mason was not nonverbal; he was just unable to speak. He had been in speech therapy for years and no one had ever checked under his tongue.”

A tongue-tie is officially known as ankyloglossia, which is a condition present at birth when the tissue connecting the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth restricts the motion of the tongue.

“When you’re developing (in utero), your tongue is part of the floor of your mouth,” Luedemann-Lazar said. “A tongue-tie is an incomplete separation.”

Some tongue-tied babies have no issues learning how to speak, but for others, the problems can be extreme.

“He could pronounce the beginning of the word but would utter the end of the word,” Motz told the New York Times in an interview. “My husband and I were the only ones that could understand him.”

First Words

Luedemann-Lazar performed a laser treatment to do away with Mason’s medical issue in 2017.

“Within 12 hours, he was talking and it was amazing,” his mother said.

His first words to them were, “I’m hungry. I’m thirsty. Can we watch a movie?”

“We’re sitting here thinking, ‘Did he just say that?’” Motz told The New York Times. “It sounded like words.”

Other problems also disappeared, the report said.

“It’s like night and day. He doesn’t have choking episodes anymore; he’s eating different types of food,” Motz said. “He’s behaving much better at school. His behavior was a problem, because he was getting poor quality of sleep at night, he was constantly tired and was not able to express himself. He doesn’t snore anymore. He doesn’t have sleep apnea anymore.”

“Mason came in as quiet and apprehensive and nervous,” she added. “He had a lot of challenges … looking at Mason’s growth and development, looking at his airwaves, looking at his muscle attachments, identifying the tongue-tie and correcting that for him, and then walking him … through the process of rehabilitating the tongue function has been amazing. It’s like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow because that’s what Mason is.”

“He is bright and has so much to say after years of not being able to communicate what was in his heart and in his head. So he’s very interactive and funny and sweet.”

Tongue-Tie Symptoms

Medical officials say that someone with a tongue-tie may have difficulty sticking out their tongue.

“Typically, the lingual frenulum separates before birth, allowing the tongue free range of motion. With tongue-tie, the lingual frenulum remains attached to the bottom of the tongue. Why this happens is largely unknown, although some cases of tongue-tie have been associated with certain genetic factors,” says the Mayo Clinic, which adds that it is more common in boys than in girls.

Breastfeeding problems, speech issues, poor oral hygiene, and other issues may ensue, says the clinic.