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Children often have difficulty with feeding and/or swallowing. For some children it is a sensory issue. They may not like the texture of a specific food or they may be very rigid in what they are willing to try. Other children have oral motor deficits that result in difficulty sucking or chewing well. Children with poor oral motor skills and / or swallowing deficits are at significant risk for aspiration. ​

Safe and efficient feeding and swallowing skills are important to allow children to meet their nutritional requirements as they grow. Eating with family and friends is also an important social activity.




Some common signs of feeding disorders in children include:

  • Refusal to try new foods

  • Trouble chewing or swallowing

  • Aversion to certain food textures

  • Gagging or vomiting

  • Tantrums at mealtime

There can be many causes of eating disorders including the following:

  • food allergies

  • palate defects

  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

  • delayed exposure to different foods

  • digestive disorders

  • autism spectrum disorders

It is estimated that 80% of individuals with developmental disabilities and upwards of 45% of typically developing children have some type of feeding problem.

Feeding Specialist are available at each of our clinic

Dysphasia is a medical term used to describe any person having difficulty swallowing foods and liquids taking  more energy and time to move food from the mouth to the stomach. Signs of dysphasia may include:

  • Drooling

  • Food or liquid remaining in the oral cavity after swallowing

  • Complaints of pain when swallowing

  • Coughing during or right after eating or drinking

  • Extra time needed to chew or swallow

  • Reflux of food

Dysphasia can lead to aspiration. Aspiration is defined when food, fluid, or other foreign material gets into the trachea or lungs instead of going down the esophagus and into the stomach. when this occurs, the person is able to cough to get the food or fluid out of their lungs, in some cases especially with children and adults with disabilities may not be able to cough. This is known as Silent Aspiration


What to do

If you are concerned about your child's nutrition, feeding and/or swallowing talk to your child's physician immediately. Be very specific when talking to the physician. Be prepared with a list of foods your child eats, a list of what your child drinks and identify any concerning meal time behaviors. Discuss the potential need for feeding therapy and request orders for speech and/or occupational therapy serivces to evalaute and treat. 

If your child coughs or has watery eyes during or following meals or is often sick with phuemonia make sure the physician is aware. If you are concerned that your child may be aspirating you should discuss a Modified Barrium Swallow Study with the physician. 

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