Pediatric Feeding Program

Baby eatingAny issue that impacts a child’s ability to eat/drink, causes limits in weight gain, growth and development may indicate that child has a Feeding Disorder. At Northeast Rehabilitation, we have therapists with specialized training in feeding and swallowing specific to children’s needs. Speech and occupational therapists collaborate as a team to ensure children are receiving the appropriate interventions at home, school and within the medical community.

Children exhibiting the following symptoms may benefit from a feeding disorder evaluation:

  • Dehydration
  • Poor nutrition
  • Aspiration
  • Refusing food or liquid
  • Long feeding times
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Difficulty breast feeding
  • Excessive drooling
  • Less than normal weight gain or growth
  • Frequent or recurring pneumonia or upper respiratory infections
  • Embarrassment or isolation in social situation involving eating
  • Arching or stiffening of the body during feeding
  • Irritability or lack of alertness during feeding
  • Difficulty accepting different textures of food (e.g. only pureed foods or crunchy cereals)
  • Food/liquid coming out of the mouth or nose
  • Difficulty coordinating breathing with eating and drinking
  • Gurgly, hoarse, or breathy voice quality
  • Coughing or gagging during meals
  • Frequent spitting up or vomiting

The program’s path of care includes:

  • Clinical evaluation to identify the need for further assessment and treatment: a speech and language pathologist and occupational therapist complete comprehensive discipline specific evaluations and a feeding evaluation to assess the child’s needs
  • VFSS /MBSS (videofluoroscopic swallow studies/ Modified barium swallow studies): when a child presents with signs or symptoms of suspected aspiration, a (VFSS or MBSS) study is completed in radiology with a radiologist, SLP and OT. This provides the SLP with high resolution images to determine any impairment of swallow function.
  • Safe feeding plan: Once the VFSS frame by frame analysis is completed, an individualized feeding plan is developed by the team to provide caregivers with diet recommendation and safe mealtime modifications.
  • Follow up care may include: weekly therapy in individual or group sessions by a speech therapist and/or occupational therapist.

 Northeast Rehab offers Feeding Groups

These groups are designed to assist a child with increasing oral motor skills, texture grading, toleration of new foods and development of self-feeding skills in a supportive and social network of same aged peers. These small groups of 2-4 children are led by a speech and occupational therapist.

Call Out: 25% of children are reported to present with some form of feeding disorder and this number increases to 80% in developmentally delayed children