Feeding Therapy Insight
As a pediatric speech-language pathologist with special interest in feeding and swallowing disorders, I have encountered a wide range of ages of children who present with difficulties surrounding feeding and mealtimes for a variety of underlying reasons. I have also had the unique opportunity to see these children make incredible gains and progress toward enjoying mealtimes.
For most of us, eating is generally an enjoyable, fairly effortless experience that we look forward to; but unfortunately this is not the case for everyone.
Studies have shown that 25% of the pediatric population exhibits moderate to severe food refusal and that number increases to 80% in children with developmental delays.
Infants or Children Who are Tube-Dependent or Have a Complex Medical History that Negatively Impacts Feeding
Feeding disorders can present themselves in a variety of ways, making it important to know when your child would benefit from seeing a speech language pathologist who specializes in feeding.
- Is your child’s medical history significant for complexities that negatively impact their ability to receive nutrition orally?
- Is your goal for them to rely less on a feeding tube or to decrease building stress when it is time to eat?
When children require significant medical attention, they can develop negative associations surrounding feedings or even any touch close to the face.
Feeding tubes can be required for a variety of reasons, but a speech-language pathologist is knowledgeable on the anatomy and physiology of the systems that work together for eating and drinking and can help you reach goals you have for your child, whether it be related to behaviors, oral motor difficulties, etc.
Enteral feeds can feel unnatural and frustrating for both parents and their children and unfortunately removal can feel like an intimidating and sizable goal. For this reason, feeding specialists also use strategies to make this experience positive, while gaining the child’s trust to allow touch to the face or for foods to enter the mouth without heightened fear that someone is going to hurt them.
The future is always in mind, as we work with families to establish positive feeding behaviors that will decrease stress further down the road. Since caregivers are with their children for the majority of these feedings, it is also critical that the feeding specialist work alongside families as members of the team.
With the help of a feeding specialist, issues surrounding negative mealtime behaviors and oral motor abilities will evaluated and treated. Feeding therapy will target providing your infant positive oral stimulation and equipping families with tools and knowledge necessary to meet their goals for their infant. This process requires patience, as it takes small steps to achieve this large goal.
If you have questions or are concerned about your child’s feeding abilities, contact us at anytime. We would welcome to provide a complimentary phone consultation.
By: Abby Ziegler M.A.,CCC-SLP
Pediatric Speech Pathologist
Chatterboxes offers quality Speech-Language & Occupational Therapy in Newton Upper Falls and Lexington, MA. We also offer flexible service options for your family. Call us today at 617-969-8255 or visit us at 377 Elliot St #110j, Newton Upper Falls, MA 02464 for our Newton location and 35 Bedford St #6, Lexington, MA 02420 for out Lexington location.