Every Oral-Motor/Feeding evaluation includes assessment of your child’s swallowing function. This means the speech therapist will look closely at your child’s ability to swallow food and liquid safely. Meaning looking to see if is going down the right tube. The therapist will ask questions about your child’s swallowing and also watch your child eat and drink. The therapist will look for signs of difficulty in the process of drinking and eating.
Signs of difficulty swallowing might include:
- coughing and choking with eating or drinking
- increased congestion during and after meals
- changes in vocal quality such as a wet sounding voice
- eye tearing while swallowing
- gulping or having a loud swallow
- feeling like food is getting stuck in the throat
- history of pulmonary symptoms such as pneumonia,bronchitis, or asthma like symptoms
- low grade fevers without illness
*It is important to understand that some of these symptoms can be caused by issues other than swallowing difficulty. This is why it is important for a trained speech /feeding therapist to do the evaluation.
You might hear the speech therapist or feeding team member say the child has signs of swallowing difficulty or may be at risk for food or liquid to go the wrong way (into the airway). When food or liquid goes into the airway or trachea it is called aspiration. It is important to identify aspiration because it can be harmful to your child’s lungs.
The therapist may recommend further testing for your child’s swallowing such as a Modified Barium Swallow Study (MBSS) or Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) to fully evaluate your child’s swallowing function. These will be explained in the next post.
- If you are concerned with your child’s ability to swallow, tell your pediatrician and ask for a referral to a speech pathologist who has training in feeding and swallowing.
- When preparing for the evaluation, bring foods and drinks that your child eats at home including preferred cups and utensils.
- Take a short video of your child eating and drinking to capture your concerns and bring this to the evaluation.
- Bring your child hungry to the evaluation so that the therapist or team can watch your child eat.
- Ask questions during the evaluation and if you do not understand something that is mentioned or recommended , please ask! We are here to help your child eat/feed better!