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Speech and language therapy

Speech and language therapy is the management of muscles within the mouth and throat which help somebody communicate, eat or drink. Speech and language therapy not only provides treatment, support and care for children who have difficulties communicating but also have the expertise to help children who have difficulties swallowing.

Swallowing is a complex process which requires many different muscles making intricate movements simultaneously in the mouth and throat. Swallowing difficulties create an immediate impact on a child's ability to eat and drink safely or effectively. Swallowing difficulties can also cause an impact on a child's eating and drinking ability after they have resolved due to fear of choking or lack of confidence in eating which has developed from previous negative experiences with swallowing.

What role does a speech and language therapist play in a multidisciplinary feeding clinic service?

Our speech and language therapists at the Kids Feeding Team help any baby or child who has swallowing difficulties. Their role is to improve, support and develop your infant's swallow and with the overall aim of maximising their ability to eat and drink as safely and effectively as possible. Our speech and language therapists will support the dietitian in our feeding clinic consultations, allowing them to devise a treatment plan suited to your child or baby's needs. Your baby or child may be having difficulties with gathering, sucking, biting, chewing or swallowing their food and drink, which is causing a reduced intake of food. Due to this complex process, we offer a multidisciplinary service so your child can get an holistic treatment plan from our team of dietitians, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

Meet Niamh...

Niamh is our committed Specialist Paediatric Dietitian who has experience in both the NHS and private sectors. She understands the complex needs of each individual child and their family to provide patient centred care which is results-focused, evidence based and personable.

When would a child benefit from seeing the Kids Feeding Team speech and language therapist?

If your child is showing any signs of difficulty with eating, feeding and swallowing they would benefit from seeing our speech and language therapist. Here are some possible indicators of swallowing difficulties in babies and children:

Jada being fed bottle by mum

Having an eating, feeding and swallowing difficulty will have a major impact on your baby or child. If left untreated, it can lead to serious medical complications including:

Speech and language therapy is highly beneficial in helping to manage eating, feeding and swallowing difficulties to prevent any further health complications.

How does a speech and language therapist help children with nutritional or eating issues?

As part of a multidisciplinary service at Kids Feeding Team, speech and language therapy will aim to improve, develop and support any eating, feeding and swallowing difficulties in your infant or child. Speech and language therapy will maximise the child's ability to eat and drink as safely and independently as possible, minimising the risk of any associated health complications. The speech and language therapist will work to strengthen and co-ordinate the movements of the mouth and throat to ensure a safe and effective swallow.

Albie on table with mum and Saffron

What are the common conditions speech and language therapy may be involved in within our feeding clinic service?

There are some conditions that are commonly associated with swallowing and feeding difficulties as follows:

If you are unsure if your child would benefit from speech and language therapy input please, Contact us.

What does a speech and language therapy assessment involve?

Following an initial assessment with the dietitian, they will decide whether it is appropriate for your child to see our speech and language therapist or not. If so, our speech and language therapist will devise an individualised treatment plan which will be tailored to the child's specific swallowing needs and abilities. Swallowing is a complex activity which requires the involvement of numerous muscles, mental function and nerves. The assessment will include:

Oral stage

The oral stage is the initial chewing, sucking and moving food or liquid in the mouth, which occurs in preparation for the food to enter the throat. Infants who have underdeveloped muscles may struggle with this, leaving food at the front of the mouth and unable to move it around. The speech and language therapist may do some movement activities with your child to observe their ability to move different parts of their mouth and control their food or drink.

Pharyngeal stage

The pharyngeal stage is responsible for triggering the swallow. During the pharyngeal stage, food and liquid is pushed through the throat to allow for entry into the stomach. The airway is closed off during this stage to prevent food from entering the airway. If the muscles involved with this stage become dysfunctional, food and liquid may enter the airway, known as aspiration. Aspirating food and liquid is dangerous and may cause chest infections and pneumonia. The speech and language therapist may do activities to feel and hear the child's swallow to see if they can identify the specific problem.

Albie on length matt

Oesophageal stage

The oesophagus is the tube which connects the throat to the stomach. In this phase, the muscles of the oesophagus relax and tighten to allow the food and liquid to move down and into the stomach. The speech and language therapist will assess your child's symptoms to identify whether there is a problem in the oesophageal stage of the swallow.

Eating, feeding and swallowing problems can occur at any of the above stages and have the possibility to cause numerous health problems if left untreated. Through infancy and childhood the muscles responsible for these stages of swallowing are continuously developing. If you're worried your child may be having difficulties with swallowing, Contact us.

What type of speech and language therapy treatment is available for children with nutritional or eating issues?

Treatments available for babies and children with eating, feeding and swallowing difficulties delivered by ur speech and language therapist, include:

Our accredited staff will assess your child and decide which treatment is best suitable for your child and family.

Rosh Safrron and mum

Summary

At the Kids Feeding Team our specialist speech and language therapists help to improve your infant's ability to swallow more effectively and safely, to ensure malnutrition is prevented. We aim to reduce the risk of aspiration and increase the child's nutritional status so you and your family can relieve any stress and anxiety that may surround mealtimes. If you would like more information and think the Kids Feeding Team could help you, please Contact us.

Make a referral

To refer a child to our services this can be done online, or by calling 0161 820 8262 or emailing office@kids feedingteam.co.uk

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We are having an event on the 1st December! As hosted by our paediatric dietitian, she will educate on how to tackle fussy eating (and prevent it!) whilst ensuring your child is getting enough energy and nutrients. Link below to buy two tickets for £10. https://www. eventbrite.co.uk/e/from-fussy-e ater-to-foodie-tickets-50061953651?ref=estw   … pic.twitter.com/ra3MWKIxdP

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