Feeding Therapy

Speech Language Pathology and Occupational Therapy

Speech therapy focuses on assessing, diagnosing and treating patients with communication problems that result from disability, surgery or developmental disorders.

Occupational therapists help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). 

Both specialties are able to specialize in the assessment and treatment of individuals with feeding and swallowing difficulties.  In its simplest form, feeding therapy is when a trained occupational or speech therapist helps teach a child how to eat or eat better.

Feeding Therapy Services will focus on obtaining goals related to:

  • Assessment and treatment of feeding and swallowing disorders (dysphagia). A comprehensive evaluation may include a videofluoroscopic evaluation (also referred to MBSS – Modified Barium Swallow Study), completed by a feeding specialist with a Radiologist, in which an video x-ray is used to observe the safety and accuracy of swallowing. At times, the speech language pathologist and ENT may complete a Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES), in which an endoscope is passed through the nose and used to observe the swallowing process during trials of eating/drinking.
  • Chewing and swallowing difficulties
  • Nasogastric or gastric tube wean readiness 
  • Screening for developmental difficulties including receptive language (understanding speech), expressive language (speaking), articulation impairment, developmental speech-language delay or disorder, gross and fine motor delays, and sensory processing difficulties to make appropriate therapy referrals. 
  • The therapists work closely with other specialists such as dietitians, ENT physicians, Gastroenterologists and Pulmonologists to develop a comprehensive care plan for each child. They also collaborate with radiologists in performing modified barium swallow studies to visualize problems during the oral and pharyngeal phases of swallowing and pinpoint specific swallowing challenges to the multidisciplinary team.

International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative (www.iddsi.org) – through consultation and following best practice principles, has developed a global standardized way of describing food and drinks that are safest for people with feeding, chewing and swallowing problems. Along with a standardization the initiative also offers testing methods to confirm consistency accuracy. See the link below for flow testing liquids. 

IDDSI flow test