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Swallowing involves coordinating and moving twenty-two muscle groups. 

What is dysphagia? 

Dysphagia is  a term used to describe difficulties with the following; 

  • sucking
  • swallowing
  • drinking
  • chewing
  • eating
  • dribbling saliva
  • closing your lips

The difficulty in coordinating the muscles and the movement can result in malnutrition, dehydration, aspiration pneumonia (chest infections) and choking. 

There are many factors and conditions which can lead to a child experiencing difficulty with their swallow or mealtime habits. The causes of dysphagia may be related to the nervous system, muscle or structure difficulties. 

How can we help? 

Speech Pathologists can assess and provide strategies on eating and drinking to ensure mealtimes are safe and enjoyable, to assist children to thrive when eating and drinking. 

Speech Pathologists can assist in completing assessment in the community or clinic where they observed your child eating and drinking to view the strength and coordination of eating and swallowing. Speech Pathologists also observe the consistencies and thickness of food being eaten, the positioning of the child whilst eating, the surrounding environment whilst eating, and any signs of choking (e.g., wet or gurgly voice, coughing, choking). This supports a Speech Pathologist to identify the necessity of a support plan, any risks and individualized support strategies. 

A mealtime support plan may include

  • Strategies to set up the environment around the child 
  • Recommendations on the consistency or textures of food your child eats and food options to explore 
  • Equipment suggestions to assist in eating and drinking 
  • Suggestions in positioning the child for the greatest success when eating and drinking 
  • Support with strengthening exercises for drinking and eating
  • Education and support for parents to support mealtimes to be less stressful and fun

For further information, please contact……..