Feeding and Swallowing Disorders

Adequate nutrition during infancy and early childhood is essential for children’s growth and health, and early nutritional deficits have been linked to long-term decline in growth and health.

Paediatric swallowing disorders (dysphagia) are associated with difficulties in moving food or liquids from the oral cavity to the stomach. Paediatric feeding disorders include difficulties that may involve suckling, difficulty feeding a child from a spoon, difficulty drinking from a glass, and difficulty chewing, and also cover situations where a child avoids eating or restricts what or how much they eat without suffering from any objective difficulties such as problems in the oral motor mechanism, with the result that the child only eats certain foods.

PAEDIATRIC PHYSIOTHERAPY
N

Pain or discomfort during feeding (due to reflux or allergy)

N

Negative experiences related to feeding (pain, cough, vomiting during feeding)

N

Negative experiences related to the oral cavity (history of nasogastric tube, oral procedures, surgical procedures)

N

Poor oral motor skills

N

Low or high muscle tone

N

Prematurity or low birth weight

N

Muscle weakness in the face and neck

N

Cleft lip or cleft palate

N

Developmental delays

N

Developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder

N

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

N

Sensory difficulties (hypersensitivity to taste, smell, texture)

N

Chronic health problems (ear infections, frequent respiratory infections, dental problems, seizures)

N

Parent-child conflict, parental stress

Feeding and swallowing disorders are assessed by a specialist speech therapist. Assessment includes:
N

The child's medical history

N

Feeding history

N

Interview with a parent

N

Clinical assessment

N

Laboratory assessment, such as video radiography or endoscopic examination by a radiologist with a speech therapist present (for swallowing disorders)

Motivation & Movement

Therapeutic Strategies

N

SOS feeding

N

Feeding Therapy

N

Food play

N

Oral motor exercises

N

Desensitization techniques (to increase tolerance of different foods and liquids)

N

Behavioural techniques (differentiation of attention, positive reinforcement)

N

Coordination of the breast-swallow-breath pattern (for infants)

N

Changes in the child's posture/position during feeding

N

Counselling for the child’s carer

The goal in feeding therapy is for the therapist and the child to interact in a positive way during the therapeutic process. Through the relationship of trust and play with food, the child will be helped to acquire a healthy relationship with food, while at the same time the therapy builds the child’s autonomy and confidence and their ability to eat without problems.