Children with feeding and swallowing difficulties may present with a diverse range of symptoms requiring mealtime management.
Difficulties can relate to trouble sucking, chewing, moving food and fluid around the mouth, managing their saliva or swallowing. Children may have difficulty transitioning between textures or using equipment such as bottles, cups or cutlery. A child may have difficulty picking food up, or keeping their lips closed to keep food in their mouths.
Some children may have restricted food and fluid intake, and may present as picky eaters or fussy eaters.
At EarlyEd, our trained Speech Pathologists will conduct a comprehensive assessment as part of an experienced feeding team which may include an occupational therapist and/or physiotherapist. We also work closely with dietitians, dentists, behaviour support practitioners and other professionals.
Other Mealtime Management Issues
Feeding therapy may include intervention and strategies that focus on:
- making the muscles of the mouth stronger
- increasing tongue movement
- improving chewing
- increasing acceptance of different foods and liquids
- improving sucking and/or drinking ability
- altering food textures and liquid thickness to ensure safe swallowing
- transitioning from non-oral to oral feeding
The SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) approach to feeding may be an appropriate therapy for your child with or without a developmental delay and/or disability. Our therapists are trained in SOS and may recommend this program if your child:
- Has a restricted range of foods they can tolerate
- Refuses entire categories of food texture/ nutrition groups
- Has to eat a different meal form the rest of the family
- Is underweight or at risk of becoming underweight due to limited food intake
- Finds mealtimes distressing
What Is Dysphagia?
Dysphagia refers to difficulty with feeding and/or swallowing. It is a symptom, not a disease. Oral phase dysphagia refers to problems using the mouth, lips and tongue to control food or liquid. Pharyngeal dysphagia refers to problems in the throat when swallowing.
Dysphagia may lead to aspiration (where food or liquid gets into the lungs). This may present as recurrent pneumonia or chest infections requiring antibiotics.
Dysphagia can affect a person at any age − from infants to the elderly.