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Feeding disorders include problems gathering food and getting ready to suck, chew, or swallow it. Swallowing disorders, also called dysphagia (dis-FAY-juh), can occur at different stages in the swallowing process:
Oral phase – sucking, chewing, and moving food or liquid through the mouth and into the throat
Pharyngeal phase – starting the swallow reflex, squeezing food down the throat, and closing off the airway to prevent food or liquid from entering the airway (aspiration)
Esophageal phase – relaxing and tightening the openings at the top and bottom of the food pipe (esophagus) and squeezing food through the esophagus into the stomach.
Feeding disorders include any difficulties from food refusal, aversion, difficulty adapting to changes in texture, temperature or taste and more.
If you suspect that your child is having difficulty eating, contact your pediatrician. Your pediatrician will examine your child and address any medical reasons for the feeding difficulties, including the presence of reflux or metabolic disorders. A speech-language pathologist (SLP) who specializes in treating children with feeding and swallowing disorders can evaluate your child and will:
Kathleen Ferguson has more than 30 years of ninja experience as a Speech Language Pathologist with an expertise in feeding and swallowing therapy. Kathleen received her undergraduate in Speech Pathology and Audiology from James Madison University and her Master's Degree in Speech Language Pathology from the University of Virginia. She received her certification in Neuro-developmental treatment in 1987 while working at the Richmond Cerebral Palsy Center. She has worked at Henrico Doctor's Hospital since 1991. Kathleen Continues to provide services at HDH for the NICU, Progressive Care Nursery, Newborn Nursery, PICU, and Pediatric Units. She has done countless Modified Barium Swallow studies for both adults and children and is a specialist in cervical auscultation. Kathleen works tirelessly to achieve the best outcomes for her patients.
Children with feeding and swallowing problems have a wide variety of symptoms. Some symptoms of Dysphagia are: coughing, choking, gagging, shortness of breath, stridor (noisy breathing), irritability, upper respiratory infection, increased respiratory rate or food refusal.
Describes a child who is not gaining adequate weight for growth and development. The reasons for Failure to Thrive differ greatly. A consultation is a great opportunity to discuss your baby's development.
A condition commonly occurring in infants. This condition runs a broad spectrum. Treatment may be minimal, if at all, however certain cases require extensive treatment to avoid long-term or on-going feeding issues.
Transitioning difficulties may arise when moving from breast to bottle or bottle to breast. Not all transitioning difficulties are Mom issues, they may be Baby issues. A consultation with our Mealtime Connection therapist could make this transition less stressful for both.
Ankyloglossia AKA tongue-tie may require surgery but is that only answer or are non-surgical means just as effective? We can help you weigh the options and understand the outcomes. Several other anatomical issues are: cleft palate or lip, large tongue, small jaw, laryngomalacia, or decreased nasal airway. Children with these issues would benefit from a consultation with Mealtime Connection.
Sensory Motor Concerns describe a wide variety of children. It is best to have each individual child evaluated to determine the primary concerns and possible solutions to meet their specific needs.
My preemie daughter came home after 3 months in the NICU, with an NG tube to feed her. I went to various places without success. I felt helpless. Less than 2 months later after several visits to Kathleen, she was off the NG tube. It was the most relieved I have felt in a long time, and I owe it all to Kathleen's encouragement, feeding techniques, nutritional plan, and support.
As a first time mom to a preemie with reflux, Kathleen was an invaluable resource and lifeline for me. Her knowledge & expertise helped get our family through a difficult & challenging time. Perhaps more importantly, she genuinely cared about my baby and myself and her compassion was greatly appreciated.
Kathleen worked with my husband and myself three times per day and performed two barium swallow studies on my son. She even followed up with me a couple of weeks after he was home. I really do owe my son's success to her and I can't imagine where we would be without having had met her. I am eternally grateful for everything she taught us. I would HIGHLY recommend seeing her.
Kathleen was a lifesaver in the NICU!! She helped my preemie twins so much and was a great support for me as well! She's an amazing resource!
This is the BEST feeding resource you will find, HANDS DOWN! During such a critical part of my preemie son and my first time mother journey, Kathleen saved us! She helped me feed my son his first bottle and taught me how to best feed him so he wouldn't aspirate. She followed our care closely. I will never stop singing your praises Kathleen! Highly recommended!!!
My daughter started seeing Kathleen around 6 months of age after we were referred by her pediatrician. She struggled with all solids/purees and would gag to the point of throwing up. After many stressful eating attempts, our daughter eventually began to refuse solids and her eating skills were very delayed when compared to other babies her age. Kathleen was able to diagnose her tongue tie and come up with a plan to help her eat purees and solids. My daughter made slow progress at first but Kathleen was always extremely encouraging and hopeful. She gave us all the techniques of what to do at home and it was helpful watching her with my daughter during the sessions so I knew exactly what to do at home. Our daughter attended therapy for about 2 months before she was discharged. Her feeding therapy has helped take away any anxiety I had when feeding her at home. She is now SO adventurous with food and loves to eat. We are so grateful we were able to work with Kathleen and that our daughter is now able to eat a variety foods without any issues. Meals are now less stressful and so enjoyable!
When you are treated at Mealtime Connection, you are receiving highly-skilled and highly-sought after dysphagia therapy. Our therapy provides the care and support necessary for your baby and the confidence necessary for you!
This form is for our new patients who have not yet been to our clinic. Please make sure both sections of this form is completed to the best of your ability prior to your evaluation appointment or if you would like to schedule one. This must be completed prior to therapy beginning. PLEASE CALL US ONCE YOU HAVE COMPLETED THIS PAPERWORK!
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