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Feeding Challenges: What’s Behind Them?

May 31st, 2019 | by Miki Fukusumi, M.A., CCC-SLP
Miki Fukusumi, M.A., CCC-SLP

Miki Fukusumi, M.A., CCC-SLP

May 31st, 2019

At NAPA, we use a global developmental approach when treating feeding and swallowing disorders. This means we consider various factors that play a role in the feeding experience. The core factors behind feeding challenges include:  

Body Positioning  

When a child has poor control of their bodies, they often use their tongue and jaw muscles to help stabilize their neck. When this happens, the tongue and jaw are unable to move as freely for things like chewing and moving the food around in our mouth (Patrick & Gisel, 1990).  

Sensory-Motor System 

Our sensory system sends our brain information about what our bodies are experiencing through our senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, texture, etc. Our motor system refers to the muscles we move in response to sensory information.  

In relation to food, accurately feeling what’s going on in our mouth, throat, and stomach helps our brain tell those muscles what to do. Is that piece of chicken too hot? Our brain tells our mouth muscles to spit it out. Swallowed water too quickly? Our brain tells us to cough. Feeling full? Our brain tells us to stop eating (whether we listen to it or not is a different question!) When our sensory-motor system is imbalanced, feeding and swallowing disorders often arise.  

Muscles 

When muscles in the mouth are weak, it’s difficult to organize our food and drinks within it for chewing and swallowing safely.   

Medical Conditions 

Gastroesophageal reflux, delayed stomach emptying, and conditions we may think of as mild, like fullness from constipation or frequent nausea can be discomforting and irritating enough to reduce a child’s interest in eating (Davies et al., 2010) 

NAPA considers all of these factors when developing an individualized intensive feeding program for your child. We take a global, interdisciplinary approach to feeding and swallowing to maximize their progress. 

We invite you to learn more about NAPA, check out our new expanded Intensive Feeding Program or book a free consultation.  

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