Oral-motor Deficits, Dysphagia and Feeding Therapy
Feeding Problems in Children
and Feeding Therapy
Dysphagia (feeding and swallowing problems), in children can result from a variety of causes. The resulting complications can include mild to severe malnutrition, behavioral issues, and serious health problems. By working with a speech-language pathologist, significant improvement can be effected in your child.
Even a child incapable of speech can directly communicate a feeding problem. Non-verbal clues may include one or more of the following1:
Arching or stiffening of the body during feeding
Irritability or lack of alertness during feeding
Refusing food or liquid
Failure to accept different textures of food (e.g., only pureed foods or crunchy cereals)
Long feeding times (e.g., more than 30 minutes)
Difficulty breast feeding
Coughing or gagging during meals
Excessive drooling or food/liquid coming out of the mouth or nose
Difficulty coordinating breathing with eating and drinking
Increased stuffiness during meals
Gurgly, hoarse, or breathy voice quality
Frequent spitting up or vomiting
Recurring pneumonia or respiratory infections
Less than normal weight gain or growth
Establishing a Diagnosis
Dysphagia can occur during any stage of the feeding process, from the chewing of food, formation of the bolus, to the passage of the bolus through the esophagus. These issues can result from a variety of underlying problems such as muscle weakness, physiological malformation, and sensory integration dysfunction.
A qualified speech-language pathologist can be an invaluable asset in the treatment of your child’s feeding problem. After a thorough evaluation, the professionals at Baron Therapy Services can determine the cause of the dysphagia and work with you in developing an effective comprehensive program to treat it.
If you believe your child is exhibiting any of the symptoms of a feeding problem, you should seek help as soon as possible to prevent life-altering complications. Research has shown that a speech-language pathologist is of significant benefit to the reversing of these issues2.