What To Expect

Assessment and Treatment of Eating and Drinking Difficulties (Dysphagia)

The terms dysphagia describes eating and drinking disorders which may occur in any of the three stages of swallowing. This includes difficulties with the positioning of food in the mouth, the oral movements including sucking, chewing and the process of swallowing.

Eating and drinking difficulties can be associated with a number of conditions:

spoon icon Prematurity
spoon icon Neurological difficulties
spoon icon Infectious diseases
spoon icon Respiratory difficulties
spoon icon Cardiovascular difficulties
spoon icon Gastrointestinal difficulties
spoon icon Craniofacial conditions
spoon icon Congenital syndromes
spoon icon Learning difficulties
spoon icon Isolated eating and drinking difficulties related to sensory processing difficulties and sensitivities e.g. children with a traumatic feeding history or traumatic medical history.
infant with difficulties eating and drinking at london clinic

Risk Associated with Feeding Dificulties:

Children who do not receive timely and appropriate management of their feeding difficulties are at an increased risk of: Aspiration i.e. food entering the airway. Respiratory infection Choking Poor nutrition and weight loss Poor health Hospital admission due to respiratory illness Anxiety and distress within the family Reduced quality of life (Royal Collage of speech and language therapists, online).

little girl with drinking difficulties
mum feeding baby girl in a highchair

Treatment

The treatment of feeding difficulties is a complex process and typically involves the implementation of a combination of strategies. These can include: diet modification, development of chewing skills, general feeding behavior modification, management of parental anxiety around meals.

All children are unique and therefore the treatment programme is designed to meet the child and the family’s needs. Reviews can be direct during a clinic visit or indirect via telephone or email, depending on the need of the child. Progress is carefully monitored and the programme adapted to optimize each child’s feeding potential in an efficient and effective manner. All treatment is based on evidence for effectiveness and efficiency.

Assessment

All children referred for input regarding their feeding difficulties or dysphagia will undergo a detailed clinical feeding assessment by Analou (SLT) and a specialist paediatric dietitian. If your child is already under the care of a dietitian, the assessment will be done by Analou only.

An appointment will be arranged with the parents, which will allow the professionals to observe a meal time. It is important that the team involved is able to observe how your child feeds. For this purpose the assessment needs to happen at the time the child will be willing to feed. You be will asked to bring your child’s drink and/or food along to the appointment to ensure the clinical assessment is true reflection of meal times in the home environment.

The SLT and dietitian will ask you a range of questions regarding your child’s feeding history, nutritional intake, general development, general health and concerns regarding meal times. It is helpful to bring a video clip of a typical meal along to the appointment. This will provide the SLT with additional information regarding your child’s behaviour around meal times at home.

At the time of the assessment your child will be weighed and measured to determine how your child is growing. Please bring your child’s Red Book along to the appointment in order for the SLT and dietitian to get an impression of your child’s growth over time.

Following the assessment, the SLT will discuss her observations and assessment findings with you. She might recommend further objective assessment of swallow function with videofluorosocpy swallow study or perhaps a referral to other specialists for example paediatric psychologist or paediatric gastroenterologist.

baby boy being breastfed
girl sat outside eating apple

Video Conferencing

The use of technology in speech and language therapy and other health services have expanded exponentially over the last decade. Videoconferencing allows for easy access to quality speech and language and feeding therapy in cases where regular clinic visits are not an option. Travel time, distance and cost are no longer barriers to intervention. Research has also demonstrated no apparent loss of quality of intervention. All which is required a good wifi/broadband connection, printer, videoconferencing facility for example Skype.

Contact Us

Wellington Diagnostics & Outpatient Centre


The Wellington Diagnostics & Outpatient Centre 296 Golders Green Road, London, NW11 9PY

email icon info@analou.co.uk
call icon +44 (0) 7860 688 386

BUPA Cromwell Hospital
 


BUPA Cromwell Hospital
162-174 Cromwell Road,London, SW5 0TU, UK

call icon +44 (0) 7860 688 386
 

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital
 


Chelsea and Westminster Hospital - Paediatric private patient department
369 Fulham Road, London, SW10 9NH

Enquiries and Appointments:
email icon info@analou.co.uk or 
call icon +44 (0) 7860 688 386

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