Have you noticed your child seems to be having trouble when they’re eating?
Maybe they don’t keep food down well or have a wet sounding voice when they’ve had something to eat.
There are many signs that your child might have a feeding or swallowing disorder, and these are two of them.
These disorders are fairly common, but they can result in your child having difficulty maintaining weight and receiving proper nutrition.
If you’re worried your child may have a problem with feeding or swallowing, you’ll want to get them assessed as soon as possible.
There is a lot of assistance out there for you and your family as you navigate this.
For example, pediatric speech & language therapy can help your child develop techniques to improve their eating and drinking.
With help and knowledge, you don’t have to navigate this alone.
Let’s take a closer look at how these disorders work, and how our speech therapy clinic in Austin can help.
What Are Feeding And Swallowing Disorders?
Feeding and swallowing are both vital processes that keep your baby fed and healthy.
Feeding disorders may include trouble sucking, chewing, drinking from a cup, or eating with utensils.
Swallowing disorders, which are also called dysphagia, mean your child might have difficulty moving food from their mouth or esophagus to their stomach.
While feeding and swallowing disorders can be related to other medical conditions, it’s possible for them to occur without a known cause.
All children have to learn how to eat and drink, so it’s normal for them to cause spills and struggle as they learn.
However, if your child chokes a lot or has a gurgling voice after eating, that may be a sign they have a disorder related to feeding or swallowing.
What Causes Feeding And Swallowing Disorders?
There are various conditions that may be related to feeding and swallowing disorders.
These can include heart disease, allergies, reflux disease, autism spectrum disorder, and pulmonary disease.
Developmental disabilities can also contribute to difficulties with feeding and swallowing.
Genetic syndromes and medication side effects can also put your child at risk for these conditions.
If your child has a structural abnormality like a cleft lip or cleft palate, they may be more prone to feeding and swallowing disorders.
Your child’s behavior and temperament, along with socioeconomic factors, may also contribute.
A few other risk factors include being born prematurely, having a low birth weight, or head and neck problems.
How To Tell If Your Child Has A Feeding Or Swallowing Disorder
There are many signs of feeding and swallowing disorders, so you’ll want to monitor your child’s behavior carefully to see what they’re having trouble with.
If any of the fallowing occurs while your child is eating or drinking, it could be a sign they have a feeding or swallowing disorder:
- Arching their back
- Crying / fussing
- Prolonged eating times
- Refusing food or drink
- Falling asleep while feeding
- Coughing or choking
- Chewing problems
- Breathing trouble
- Consuming only certain textures
- Consuming only a small variety of foods
- Congestion during meals
- Noisy breathing
- Decreased responsiveness during feeding
- Pocketing or holding food in their mouth
- Excessive drool
Maybe you’ve noticed your child spits up or throws up a lot.
Moreover, if your child is not gaining weight or has a hoarse breathy voice after meals, they may have a feeding or swallowing disorder.
Speech Therapy Assessments For Feeding And Swallowing Disorders
A speech therapist can assess your child for feeding and swallowing disorders by watching them eat and drink.
They will pay close attention to how your child uses their mouth and tongue and watch to see how they chew and swallow their food and drink.
If the therapist finds that further assessment is needed, they can assess your child’s swallowing with one of two methods: a modified barium swallow study or an endoscopic assessment.
The modified barium swallow study involves your child eating or drinking something with barium in it, which will show the course of the food on an X ray.
With an endoscopic assessment, a tube with a camera will be inserted into your child’s nose so your child swallowing can be viewed on a screen.
Once assessed, your child’s team will offer suggestions for helping your child eat and drink.
How Can A Speech Therapist For Kids With Feeding And Swallowing Disorders Help?
A speech therapist can treat issues involving complex mouth and tongue positioning.
Postural and positioning techniques are one of the most effective possible treatments for your child’s feeding or swallowing disorder.
They may help your child learn to modify their chin position, head rotation, or head stabilization.
A speech therapist will also be able to suggest helpful equipment and utensils to assist your child as they strive to fix their disordered swallowing.
There are exercises that your speech therapist will be able to teach your child to help them.
An effortful swallow is when your child’s tongue movement is exaggerated and increased to help with clearance.
Oral motor treatments, feeding strategies, behavioral treatments, and more will be added to you and your child’s arsenal to help them overcome their feeding and swallowing disorder.
Does Virtual Online Speech Therapy For Feeding And Swallowing Disorders Work?
More and more, parents are opting for virtual online speech therapy sessions, for many different reasons.
But while virtual online speech therapy does work in general, for both pediatric and adult speech therapy treatments, is it effective for feeding and swallowing disorders?
A 2018 review by Nordio Et Al aimed to answer this question.
Thus far, there isn’t a lot of data to suggest one way or another.
However, it does seem that virtual online speech therapy for feeding and swallowing disorders improves adherence to treatment protocols.
More research is needed at this point, but there’s no reason to believe online speech therapy for feeding and swallowing disorders would not be effective.
So if you’re a busy parent with a hectic schedule, you live in an area that makes it difficult to access treatment, or you just like the convenience of it, speech teletherapy can help your child with their feeding and swallowing disorder.
Book Your Appointment With Sol Speech And Language Therapy Today
Think your child would benefit from speech therapy for their feeding or swallowing disorder?
We’re here to help you in a time that may feel stressful for your family.
Book your appointment with Sol Speech and Language Therapy today to get started.
If you’re ready to take the next step, reach out today to one of our two locations for a free phone consultation.Sol Speech & Language Therapy
6448 E Hwy 290 Suite E-106,
Austin, TX 78723
Sol Speech & Language Therapy
555 Round Rock W Dr E-221,
Round Rock, TX 78681
Sol Speech & Language Therapy offers personalized skilled intervention to those struggling with their speech and language skills. Services offered include screening, consultation, and comprehensive evaluation. We also provide one-on-one and/or group therapy for speech sound disorders, receptive/expressive language delay/disorder, stuttering/cluttering, accent reduction, and much more.