Feeding and Swallowing Disorders

Children who have difficulty getting food to the mouth, chewing food, swallowing food, or transitioning to the next level of food during development may have feeding or swallowing difficulties, known as Dysphagia.  At Lake Regional Health System, the speech pathology and occupational therapy departments can help your child eat better.

The speech pathology department can evaluate chewing and swallowing by checking the stages of the swallow which include:

  • Taking food off of the spoon and taking liquid from the bottle or cup
  • Chewing food or controlling food/liquid in the mouth
  • Moving food and liquid through the mouth
  • Swallowing food and liquid through the throat without coughing or feeling as though the food or liquid are getting stuck

Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you notice that he or she is having difficulty chewing or swallowing food. The pediatrician can order a swallowing evaluation in the speech therapy department. The speech therapist may evaluate your child using special equipment in the x-ray department or by watching your child eat in a child-friendly pediatric treatment room. Young children may be referred to another hospital depending on the situation.

The speech therapist may also work closely with occupational therapy if your child has difficulty bringing food or liquid to the mouth or if your child seems to avoid food textures, tastes, or temperatures.

The speech therapists at Lake Regional Health System are all licensed in the state of Missouri and receive ongoing training to stay current on feeding and swallowing standards.

For more information about pediatric feeding and swallowing, please visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) website