About Pediatric Oral-Motor Feeding Therapy at The Therapy Tree
Support and assistance is provided to children from birth to 21 years of age, with difficulties eating or swallowing such as picky eaters, coughing or gagging while eating, or abnormal weight loss or gain. Often feeding and/or swallowing therapies are provided as a collaborative effort by both Pediatric Speech Language Pathologists and Pediatric Occupational Therapists.
The Therapy Tree Oral-Motor Feeding Therapy team is dedicated to working with children and their caregivers, who need help developing or improving the oral and sensory skills necessary for proper eating and swallowing. Children are taught how to become more aware of their oral muscles and work to build the endurance, movement, and strength of their cheeks, tongue, jaw, and lips.
Oral-motor feeding therapy is a crucial element in helping prevent growth problems, malnutrition, and accidental passage of food into the lungs, while improving speech, boosting confidence in personal interactions and daily living skills. The type of therapeutic methods used and length of services are dependent on varying issues such as what problems are being addressed, who willing participants are and what their desired goals are, and also influenced by the strength and help of their support systems, and level of needs to be met. Sometimes sessions are set on a weekly basis, taking learning step by step and at a steady pace. Other times sessions can be more or less frequent based on the client’s particular needs at the time.
How do I know if my child needs oral-motor feeding therapy?
You may notice that your child is thinner or heavier than other children of the same age, or wonder why it seems that mealtime is often a battle. At wellness check-ups, your child’s pediatrician may notice difficulties that your child is having and write a prescription referring your child to oral-motor feeding therapy.
Please look at our guide on our Pediatric Oral-Motor Feeding Screening page for more specific information. If you are concerned that your child may benefit from a screening, evaluation, or therapy, please fill out our brief Screening form, call us at 847.265.7300, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a screening or evaluation.
We offer free developmental screenings to children birth to five years of age, which you can learn more about by visiting our Developmental Screenings page.
What happens after the screening?
Once we complete the developmental screening, our therapists will provide you with a Screening Summary Sheet. If the therapists who performed the screening feel that a full evaluation is needed, they will request in writing, that your pediatrician prescribe an oral-motor feeding evaluation on the Screening Summary.
What happens if a full evaluation is suggested?
Your child will be evaluated to determine if oral-motor feeding therapy would be of benefit and what areas of development and nutrition need improvement. We strive to provide you with the most comfort, knowledge, and confidence in understanding the process and benefits of pediatric oral-motor feeding therapy and what can be accomplished.
After the evaluation, if it is determined that oral-motor feeding therapy is necessary, we will address in-depth, specific difficulties that are occurring in the child’s oral-motor and sensorimotor development. Working together, we will develop an individualized treatment plan along with home teaching tools for parent/caregivers to practice skill-building exercises in the home, to improve or eliminate these problem areas. The use of different techniques, both traditional and complimentary, along with collaboration across multiple specialties available at The Therapy Tree, provide children the best possible outcome for increasing nutrition, eating, swallowing, and speech, along with independence, confidence, and overall life skills.
The Oral-Motor Feeding Therapy Team
The Therapy Tree Pediatric Speech Language Pathologists and Occupational Therapists are responsible for evaluating each child’s condition and needs, developing a treatment plan for each, determining activities and specific goals to be accomplished, and determining the need for collaboration with other therapists here, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and/or counseling services.
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Our therapists provide therapy with compassion and enthusiasm, while focusing on improving the lives of families as a whole. Just as much as we teach and help our pediatric patients, they become some of our greatest challenges, joy, and teachers.
We hope that our website gives you comfort and confidence in making decisions regarding your child / children and the ways that we can enrich your lives.
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For more information on the therapeutic services we offer adults, families, and others, including massage therapy, yoga, martial arts, and other wellness classes, please visit our Adult Services and our Wellness Center pages.