The Children's Institute Blog

DIEZ Method Saves Eating for Cailyn and Simon

Posted: May 09, 2017 by The Children's Institute

One thing went through young Cailyn Milbert’s head every time she ate as a kid.
“Don’t throw up! Don’t throw up!” she told me. “Something’s wrong with me.”

But she did throw up – almost every time she ate. Her elementary school principal made her eat in the corner of the school’s office, facing the wall, because they thought it was behavioral. And doctors, puzzled, found nothing.

We feature her and another boy with similar swallowing issues today as part of Better Speech & Hearing Month.
“When she was three months old, they kept saying, ‘There’s no blockage, she’s fine,’” Nicole, Cailyn’s mother, said. “As time went on, I started to realize there was something going on, because she’d even throw up at school – every day. If they did a strep test, they knew to do it over a garbage can.”

By age 7, the problem persisted.

Then, Cailyn, who weighed barely 40 lbs., came to The Children’s Institute, where speech-language therapist Roxann Gross , PhD, found food was getting stuck in her esophagus, and taught Cailyn her DIEZ Method, a new method of breathing while she ate.

“The connection between breathing pressure and esophageal pressure is well-known,” Dr. Gross said. “But nobody, to my knowledge, has ever exploited it to aid eating.”

Cailyn’s seven years of vomiting? “It basically stopped after she learned how to breathe and swallow,” Mom said.     
Becky Casalvieri calls the DIEZ Method “a godsend.”     
Becky’s son, Simon, got sick and was vomiting and, after a hospital stay and recuperation, spent the next seven months vomiting every time he ate. He came to The Children’s Institute, which is one of the only places one can go to monitor both breathing and swallowing simultaneously; Dr. Gross also found food was getting stuck in Simon’s esophagus.

“He had a dysfunction between breathing and swallowing. We had seven months of not eating dinner as a family,” Becky said. “When I saw [The Children’s Institutes swallow study], I thought, ‘This can’t be it! How can it be something so simple?!’ It was just amazing.”

After learning DIEZ – where Simon exhaled deeply from his diaphragm after swallowing a bite of food – the vomiting stopped.

“It was such a blessing,” Becky said.

Nicole, Cailyn’s Mom, couldn’t believe she had found the solution to her daughter’s medical problem.

“When they did the swallow test and we saw the food was getting stuck and coming up – I wanted to cry with happiness,” Nicole said. “I was happy not because there was something wrong with my kid, but
that there was a way to help her.”

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