Pediatric Feeding Therapy Services

Our feeding team, comprised of Speech Language Pathologists and Occupational Therapists, apply principles from advanced training (Sequential-Oral-Sensory “SOS”, Beckman Oral Motor, etc) to evaluate and treat patients with feeding concerns. We work with children who experience difficulty with acceptance of new foods/textures, commonly referred to as “Problem Feeders”, as well as patients who have feeding disorders, known as dysphagia.

Click on the tabs below to learn more about problem feeders and dysphagia.

Children who require professional feeding intervention demonstrate concerns beyond being picky.  Many children prefer certain foods and can be stubborn when new foods are presented.  Problem feeders present with signs/symptoms that are much more severe such as:

  • Diet consisting of less than 20 foods
  • May lose foods that were once accepted and do not reacquire them
  • Refuse foods even when hungry
  • Demonstrate behaviors (crying/tantrums/withdrawal) associated with eating or just being in the presence of food
  • Unwilling to try new foods after many presentations

Dysphagia can occur at different phases including oral, pharyngeal and esophageal.  Our therapists specialize in treating oral phase dysphagia which includes sucking, chewing, controlling food inside the oral cavity and moving food or liquid into the throat to successfully swallow.

Some signs/symptoms that may be exhibited due to oral phase dysphagia may include:

  • Food or liquid leaking from the mouth
  • Food or liquid scattering in the mouth
  • Pocketing food inside the cheeks
  • Reduced sensitivity- Difficulty feeling food and therefore cannot control it
  • Difficulty chewing due to weaknesses in oral musculature

What causes feeding and swallowing disorders?

The following are some causes of feeding and swallowing disorders in children:

  • nervous system disorders (e.g., cerebral palsy, meningitis, encephalopathy)
  • gastrointestinal conditions (e.g., reflux, “short gut” syndrome)
  • prematurity and/or low birth weight (history of intubation or feeding tube)
  • heart disease
  • cleft lip and/or palate
  • conditions affecting the airway
  • autism
  • head and neck abnormalities
  • muscle weakness in the face and neck
  • multiple medical problems
  • respiratory difficulties
  • medications that may cause lethargy or decreased appetite
  • problems with parent-child interactions at meal times
  • Sensory Processing Disorder

New client feeding evaluation forms

To assist you with getting the most out of your first feeding therapy visit, please print and complete the age appropriate evaluation form:

  1. Feeding Evaluation Questionnaire 0 – 6 Years pdf_icon
  2. Feeding Evaluation Questionnaire 6+ Years pdf_icon

Our evaluation process

In order to obtain a clear picture of your child’s needs, our therapists will complete an evaluation.  We will obtain medical history and a food diary, discuss symptoms, and gather information regarding overall development.  The therapist will then conduct an assessment to look at the strength and movement of the muscles involved in the oral phase of feeding as well as observe feeding to see your child’ s posture, behavior, and oral movements during eating and drinking.

Our treatment approach

If feeding therapy is recommended, we will work closely with both the child and family to develop an individualized treatment plan. The following are examples of areas that may be the focus of intervention:

  • making the muscles of the mouth stronger including the jaw, lips and tongue
  • increasing tongue movement to better control food inside the oral cavity
  • improving chewing for various types of textures including soft and crunchy
  • strengthening the core muscles that promote optimal positioning for feeding
  • increasing acceptance of different foods and liquids
  • improving sucking and/or drinking ability
  • providing sensory input to increase awareness or decrease sensitivity in and around the mouth
  • improving self feeding skills

Common Questions

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