Care for infants and children with feeding and swallowing disorders
Speech language pathologists, also known as speech therapists, or occupational therapists, at Dell Children’s Medical Center, part of Ascension Seton have the expertise to diagnose, treat and manage the care of children who have feeding and swallowing disorders. Pediatric feeding therapists will work with your child to help them learn to safely eat and drink by mouth, as well as learn to trust eating for nutrition, and develop happy healthy mealtimes. Providing the right care for your child starts with doctors and care teams who listen to understand your child and your concerns. Our goal is to determine the cause of your child’s feeding or swallowing disorder. Then we develop a care plan that helps provide appropriate treatment.
If your child shows any signs from the list below, they may benefit from feeding therapy:
- Weight loss or slower than average weight gain
- Unwilling to try new foods or picky eating
- Choking or gagging while eating
- Uses a nasal or gastric tube due to concerns for aspiration (food or liquid going down the windpipe)
Evaluations and testing for feeding and swallowing disorders
At your child’s first visit, we listen to your concerns and discuss your child’s health history and feeding history. Then, your child will do a feeding evaluation with a member of our care team. Additional tests and evaluations may be recommended for your child's treatment including a swallow function study, or an endoscopic assessment. Your child’s care team explains your child’s diagnosis, answers your questions and works with you to create a personalized care plan, which may include:
- Therapy in a fun, non-stressful environment
- Parent education
- Specific textures or consistency modifications to ensure swallow safety
Therapy care for feeding and swallowing disorders
Pediatric feeding therapy will teach your child how to trust eating, teach swallowing safety, and improve nutrition. At Dell Children’s, we offer a variety of feeding methods including responsive feeding techniques, swallowing treatments and rehabilitation. One method is called sequential oral sensory (SOS), which means we gradually increase your child’s comfort level with various types of food. Our trained pediatric therapists will guide your child to explore and learn about the taste, texture, smell and consistency of food. We begin by testing your child’s ability to tolerate foods in the room and on the table, and then move on to touching and eventually tasting and eating foods. At Dell Children’s This includes helping patients heal and learn the skills they need to grow into thriving adults.
A multidisciplinary approach to care
If your child has a complex condition and needs feeding support, a feeding specialist may become part of your child’s care team. Our feeding specialists collaborate with other pediatric specialists and specialty programs at Dell Children’s, including:
- Aerodigestive program
- Gastroenterology (GI)
- Ear, nose and throat
- Nutrition services
- Trach and ventilator program
Together, we deliver comprehensive care that’s right for your child.