Feeding disorders include difficulty in food manipulation prior to initiation of the swallow, including mastication gathering food and getting ready to suck, chew, or swallow it. This may occur as a result of poor sensory processing or motor development.
Many people take the act of eating for granted. Yet, it is a complex system comprised of components that must work in unity. These components are divided in four phases of swallow. The oral preparatory phase, when the food is chewed to form a cohesive bolus and positioned on tongue to be ready for transport. Next is the oral transit phase, in which the bolus is transferred to the throat area (pharynx). Then, in the pharyngeal phase, a number of physiological activities occur basically to trigger the bolus to go to the esophagus and stomach without entering the nasal cavity or the lungs. Once in the esophagus, the esophageal phase begins with the bolus moving to the stomach through contractions of the esophageal muscle. If any one of these components do not function properly, it will result in a feeding and swallowing disorder (dysphagia).
Treatment varies significantly depending on the cause and symptoms of the feeding and swallow disorder. Children who are considered to be picky eaters also benefit from feeding intervention. Speech-Language Pathologists may focus intervention on improving the child’s oral motor skills for feeding, or provide oral sensory-based intervention, as well as behavioral-based therapy. Among other methods of treatment, I adopt the Sequential Oral Sensory approach to feeding by Dr. Kay Toomey.
If you have any concerns/questions in this area, please do not hesitate to contact me.