pediatric oral aversion treated by Akron speech therapists

How Oral Aversion is Treated by Our Akron Speech Therapists

Does your child have an oral aversion? It’s characterized by an intense resistance of fear of eating, drinking, or anything involving the mouth. It impacts an estimated 1 in 4 kids at some point in childhood – a conservative estimate.

As our Akron speech therapists can explain, we see it frequently among children who are born prematurely. It’s also more common among those with:

  • sensory processing issues
  • developmental disorders (like autism spectrum disorder)
  • certain medical issues (history of intubation or feeding tubes, GERD, short bowel syndrome)
  • traumatic experiences (previous choking, severe vomiting, or other negative experience related to eating)

Oral aversion can manifest as refusal to eat certain textures, tastes, types of food, or outright refusal to eat together. Kids who have an oral aversion might gag, vomit, or exhibit distress when exposed to certain foods or when prompted to eat.

You may have also heard the term “food aversion,” which is closely related. Food aversion is a type of oral aversion that pertains primarily to food.

The condition can be especially concerning if it impacts a child’s nutritional intake and overall development.

As Akron speech therapists, we can help treat pediatric oral aversion in feeding & swallowing therapy. We may also incorporate interdisciplinary treatment from our occupational therapists and ABA therapists.

Signs & Symptoms of Oral Aversion in a Child

Oral aversion is not simply picky eating, though sometimes it’s mistaken for it. Some indicators of it:

  • Refusal to eat or drink
  • Crying or fussiness during mealtimes
  • Gagging or vomiting at the sight, smell, or taste of food
  • Avoiding certain textures or food types
  • Difficulty transitioning from pureed to solid foods
  • Weight loss or poor weight gain

How Pediatric Speech Therapists Can Help

Our Akron pediatric speech therapists are integral to both the diagnosis and treatment of oral aversion among kids. Our team at Therapy & Wellness Connection are specifically trained to address feeding and swallowing issues in children.

Our role includes:

  • Assessment. A speech therapist will conduct a comprehensive evaluation to ascertain the underlying causes of a child’s oral aversion. This may include review of medical history, observation of mealtime behaviors, and assessment of oral motor skills.
  • Development of Individualized Therapy Plan. Using that assessment, we’ll develop a personalized treatment plan that is specific to the child’s needs. This may include desensitization techniques, oral motor exercises, behavioral strategies, and parent training.
  • Collaboration with Other Professionals. Our pediatric speech therapists work closely with other healthcare providers, such as OTs, pediatricians, and dieticians for a holistic approach.
  • Monitoring and Adjusting the Plan. Feeding & swallowing therapy is never a one-and-done solution. It’s a process that involves continuous monitoring progress and adjusting the treatment plan as necessary. This helps ensure our interventions are effective.

Early Intervention for Oral Aversion

Early intervention is pivotal for overcoming oral aversion. The sooner a child receives appropriate therapy, the better the short- and long-term outcomes of nutritional intake, growth, and overall life quality. This can help prevent major complications such as malnutrition, dehydration and developmental delays.

We can provide treatment in-clinic, at home, and in school in Northeast Ohio.

For more information about Akron feeding & swallowing therapy from our speech therapists, Contact Us Online or call our office (330) 748-4807. Our educational services and multidisciplinary therapy are available in Brecksville, Broadview Heights, Cleveland, Akron and surrounding communities.

Additional Resources:

What to Know About Oral Aversion, July 16, 2023, Medically Reviewed by Renee Anushka Alli, MD, WebMD

More Blog Entries:

Childhood Obesity and How Pediatric Occupational Therapists Can Help, March 15, 2024, Akron Feeding & Swallowing Therapy Blog