Swallowing Disorders In Children

Highly trained Beaumont Children's speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists have specialized skills and training in treatments for swallowing disorders in children. As part of Beaumont's Center for Children's Rehabilitation, we help children throughout Southeast Michigan reclaim the ability to enjoy childhood through customized treatment techniques and exercises. The Center is one of the largest, most comprehensive pediatric rehabilitation programs in Michigan.

Our goal is to promote positive, safe, healthy, independent and optimal feeding and swallowing patterns in children that can be maintained by parents and other caregivers in the home.

Swallowing Disorders Treatment Overview

Beaumont speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists help children work toward successful eating and swallowing through comprehensive evaluations, consultations, one-on-one treatments and parent education to promote acquisition of sensory-motor skills. The treatment of eating and swallowing disorders in children may include several service delivery models, such as neuromuscular treatment for body strengthening and optimal positioning.

Sensory-motor treatment enhances arousal, sensory awareness and addresses any sensory defensiveness concerns. Oral-motor treatment impacts quality and coordination of jaw, lips and tongue movements for management of different food textures and liquids.

Occupational therapists provide adaptive equipment as necessary to obtain the most optimal level of independence. Speech-language pathologists focus on successful transit of food through the oral cavity. Both clinicians focus on the sensory-motor skills necessary for eating safely.

Family training is essential for successful results. The therapists also have frequent communication with the referring physician for cohesiveness of programming. The occupational therapist and speech-language pathologist will collaborate and may initiate interdisciplinary programming with dietary, social work and behavioral psychology, as required, based upon each child's individualized program.

What are the Benefits of Treating Pediatric Swallowing Disorders?

Our outcome measures for self-feeding indicate that there is significant improvement following therapy for most of our patients. Patients often achieve increased oral intake and increased weight gain. They also often reduce or eliminate reliance on tube feeding, achieve less gagging during meals, decrease disruptive mealtime behaviors and enhance independence. Greater variety of food intake and resulting improvements in health are two additional benefits of swallowing disorder treatments.

Groups for Swallowing Disorders Treatment

We offer three feeding groups, generally during the summer months. For our younger children, we offer Little Munchers, and for our older children, Big Crunchers. We also offer a year-round program called Sequential Sensory/Motor Approach to Feeding (SOS). In these groups, we utilize peer interaction to facilitate improved eating and swallowing skills.

This program assists with:

  • dysphagia (swallowing deficit as a result of a neurological disorder)
  • bottle feeding
  • oral-motor management
  • disruptive mealtime behaviors due to sensory-motor issues
  • transitioning off the bottle
  • self-feeding
  • decreasing meal time
  • transitioning to solids
  • picky eaters

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