Swallowing consists of 3 phases (1) the oral phase (2) the pharyngeal phase and (3) the esophageal phase. Children who have difficulty eating could have problems in any of these phases of their swallow.
A feeding disorder is not the same thing as an eating disorder. The term “feeding” generally refers to a child who has difficulty with the oral phase of the swallow. This could be due to a variety of reasons such as low muscle tone or sensory processing disorder. Children with feeding disorders are often characterized as “picky eaters” and have a limited diet.
Dysphagia generally refers to people whose difficulty involves the pharyngeal phase of the swallow. These children may experience coughing, watery eyes, or choking during meals. Dysphagia is diagnosed by a doctor following a Modified Barium Swallow Study.
Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) are specially trained in the evaluation and treatment of children with swallowing disorders. An SLP will first assess your child to determine the areas of difficulty and come up with a plan for treatment to make meal times more productive for your child and your family.
• Has a restricted diet of fewer than 20 foods
• Consistently cries and/or falls apart during meals
• Demonstrates coughing, choking, watery eyes, or vomiting while eating or drinking
• Ongoing poor weight gain or weight loss
• Refuses entire categories of foods (i.e. will not eat any mushy foods)
• Has food related anxiety, which can present itself as crying, gagging at the sight of food, fleeing from the table, etc
• Almost always eats different foods than the rest of the family
If you suspect that your child has a language disorder call us at (214) 494-4677 to schedule a FREE consultation with one of our Speech-Language Pathologists.