Children with feeding and swallowing disorders are at high risk for substantial health, learning, and social challenges. But when treated early with Cleveland feeding & swallowing therapy in a speech therapy clinic, kids can overcome their unique difficulties and go on to thrive.
As explained by the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, feeding disorders include problems with sucking, chewing, eating from a spoon, or drinking from a cup. Swallowing disorders (formally known as dysphagia) involve trouble moving liquids or foods from the mouth to the throat, esophagus and/or stomach. Issues can also be the result of sensory processing difficulties, which can lead to extreme food aversions, based not just on taste, but texture, temperature, smell, and visual appearance. Kids with autism especially struggle with this.
Cleveland feeding & swallowing therapy can help to treat these disorders, which often stem from other medical conditions like prematurity/low birth weight, reflux, breathing issues like asthma, cleft palate or lip, muscle weakness in face/neck, certain medications, and conditions like Down’s Syndrome, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, and meningitis. Sometimes, though, feeding and swallowing problems have no clear cause at all.
Some telltale signs intervention may be needed are when the child:
- Isn’t gaining weight or growing.
- Refuses to eat or drink.
- Cries, fusses, or arches back when feeding.
- Spits up or throws up a lot.
- Has difficulty breathing when they’re eating and/or drinking.
- Coughs or gags when trying to chew.
- Has a raspy voice or gurgles during or right after meals.
When Cleveland feeding & swallowing therapy is recommended, it’s typically administered by experienced speech-language pathologists. Our overarching goal is going to be facilitating and supporting safe and adequate nutrition and hydration for each child. We are specially trained to:
- Evaluate whether the child’s chewing skills are developmentally appropriate and if they’re moving their tongue correctly.
- Help babies improve the ability to suck from a bottle, drink from a cup, or coordinate simultaneous breathing and eating.
- Help older babies and toddlers learn to chew properly and feed themselves.
- Encourage a more varied diet by creating a fun, positive, safe environment where we slowly introduce new foods, tastes, textures, and smells.
The duration and frequency of feeding & swallowing therapy will depend on the child, with special considerations for their age, attention level, degree of impairment, cognitive function, physical abilities, and family schedule.
In some cases (particularly for kids with complex feeding problems), we may need to incorporate an interdisciplinary approach, meaning we collaborate with a team of professionals from experts, from ENT doctors to occupational therapists to nutritionists.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy and feeding & swallowing therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
More Blog Entries:
Akron Speech Therapy Treatment for Tongue Thrust, July 10, 2022, Cleveland Feeding & Swallowing Therapy Blog