Feeding and Swallowing Program
The region’s most comprehensive program for the treatment of feeding and swallowing disorders.
Who Can Benefit
Treatment can help children who exhibit symptoms such as:
- delays in oral motor skills, such as being unable to suck (drink) from a bottle or chew
- sensory issues such as being unable to tolerate a texture or taste in the mouth
- feeding and swallowing disorders associated with medical conditions, ranging in severity and cause from gastroesophageal reflux to organ transplantation
- feeding and swallowing disorders associated with developmental disorders such as autism
- significant social or behavioral problems that impact eating
- being ready for the transition from dependency on IV (total parental nutrition or TPN) or tube feeding for nutrition but are ready to eat by mouth
- lack of progression to eating an adequate number of foods of various textures and/or food groups
No matter what the cause, when infants and children have difficulty feeding and swallowing, it can create serious health problems.
Our First Step is Understanding
When a child comes to us with a feeding or swallowing issue, our first step is to evaluate his or her needs. That requires a team of experts, which may include:
- Physician and/or nurse practitioner
- Speech/language pathologist
- Clinical dietitian
- Occupational therapist
- Psychologist and/or behavioral specialist
- Music therapist
- Nursing staff (inpatient only)
- Social Worker (inpatient only)
This evaluation may also include testing, such as our kid-friendly modified barium swallow study.
Our treatment plans are individualized, and so are our goals. These could include:
- Weight gain and growth
- Accepting food and drinks by mouth
- Increasing the variety, volume and textures of food eaten
- Chewing and managing a bite of food
- Safe swallowing
- Drinking from a bottle or a cup
- Acquiring or improving self-feeding skills
- Decreasing or eliminating tube feedings/TPN
- Improving enjoyment of mealtime with parent, family and/or caregivers
The Outpatient Feeding and Swallowing Program
Through this program, the child can receive treatment once a week at one of our facilities. We always invite parents to participate in therapy, which may include speech and language pathology, occupational therapy, and nutrition counseling.
The Outpatient Feeding and Swallowing Intensity Program
This program is a great solution for kids who need more intensive therapy, are medically stable, and live within driving distance of The Children’s Institute. They receive therapy five days a week for three weeks, working one-on-one with speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, behavior specialists, dietitians, and doctors or nurses. In all cases, we work with parents and caregivers to provide support and teach a variety of techniques and skills to manage feeding issues at home.
The Inpatient Feeding and Swallowing Program
Those children who require more medical management and a higher volume of structured meals are admitted to our Feeding and Swallowing Inpatient Unit. Here, children receive two to four therapeutic meals every day as well as occupational therapy and speech and language therapy. If needed, additional therapies and medical consultations are available.
In every case, our therapists and doctors work with parents and caregivers, providing support and teaching the techniques and skills necessary to manage feeding and swallowing issues at home.
Regardless of Program, Family is Part of our Team
We teach every family a variety of techniques and skills to help them manage their child’s eating in a step-by-step process. Family involvement and training is critical to treatment success. Prior to evaluation, the family is required to complete a Feeding Case History, which is reviewed and used by the team during each child’s evaluation. If needed, a modified barium swallow study may be scheduled. Each family is encouraged to actively participate in their child’s therapy sessions and is instructed on how to carry over treatment programs to the home. Family support continues through discharge planning, outpatient consultation and follow-up care. The team members may also collaborate with each child’s support services, including school therapists, teachers, home nurses, early intervention and/or wrap-around service providers.
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Feeding and Swallowing Program