About Feeding and Swallowing Disorders
Think about how you eat. You first have to get the food or drink to your mouth. You may use a fork, spoon, straw, or your hands. You have to open your mouth and take the food in. You close your lips to keep the food in your mouth. You then chew the food or move the liquid to get ready to swallow.
Children have to learn this process. They start by sucking and learn how to eat solid foods and drink from a cup. Children will have some trouble at first. Drinks may spill from their mouths. They may push food back out or gag on new foods. This is normal and should go away. A child with a feeding disorder will keep having trouble. Some children will eat only certain foods, or they may take a long time to eat. These children may also have a feeding disorder.
Some children also have swallowing problems, or dysphagia (dis-FAY-juh). Swallowing happens in three stages, or phases. A child can have a problem in one or more of these phases.
Feeding / Dysphagia Evaluation and Therapy
During an evaluation your child's feeding and swallowing abilities will be assessed by a Speech Therapist as well as an Occupational Therapist. An evaluation can ensure that your child's oral motor and sensory systems are intact and do not contribute to your child's feeding/swallowing problem. The therapists can also assess your child's overall muscle tone, respiration and phonation, etc.
After an evaluation your child will be assigned to a speech or occupational therapist, depending on the results from the evaluation. Therapy is individualized to meet the needs of each patient and their family to maximize potential. Parents are encouraged to participate in sessions and provide feedback in order to develop a meaningful partnership.
Myofunctional Evaluation and Therapy
During an evaluation your child's tongue and facial muscles' functionality will be assessed by a Speech Therapist as well as an Occupational Therapist. Throughout the evaluation and therapy the therapist will work closely with your child's dentist or orthodontist to ensure all discomforts are addressed. Myofunctional Therapy corrects improper function of tongue and facial muscles used at rest for chewing and swallowing. All therapy is individualized to meet the needs of the patient and family.