Pediatric Feeding Therapy Services

We work with toddlers, children, and adolescents

Our feeding team, comprised of Speech Language Pathologists and Occupational Therapists, apply principles from advanced training (Sequential-Oral-Sensory “SOS”, Beckman Oral Motor, etc) to evaluate and treat patients with feeding concerns. We work with toddlers, children, and adolscents who experience difficulty with acceptance of new foods/textures, commonly referred to as “Problem Feeders”, patients who have feeding disorders, known as dysphagia, as well as mother’s with difficulty breastfeeding.

Learn more about problem feeders, dysphagia and lactation counseling

Children who require professional feeding intervention demonstrate concerns beyond being picky.  Many children prefer certain foods and can be stubborn when new foods are presented.  Problem feeders present with signs/symptoms that are much more severe such as:

  • Diet consisting of less than 20 foods
  • May lose foods that were once accepted and do not reacquire them
  • Refuse foods even when hungry
  • Demonstrate behaviors (crying/tantrums/withdrawal) associated with eating or just being in the presence of food
  • Unwilling to try new foods after many presentations

Dysphagia can occur at different phases including oral, pharyngeal and esophageal.  Our therapists specialize in treating oral phase dysphagia which includes sucking, chewing, controlling food inside the oral cavity and moving food or liquid into the throat to successfully swallow.

Some signs/symptoms that may be exhibited due to oral phase dysphagia may include:

  • Food or liquid leaking from the mouth
  • Food or liquid scattering in the mouth
  • Pocketing food inside the cheeks
  • Reduced sensitivity- Difficulty feeling food and therefore cannot control it
  • Difficulty chewing due to weaknesses in oral musculature

Breastfeeding provides a mother and baby with best possible nutrition and several other health benefits that begin from the moment of birth. When encountering difficulty, we are able to provide Certified Lactation Counseling services. Combined with training as feeding therapists, we are able to assess and treat a variety of concerns related to latch, milk production, oral motor skill, muscle tone, and positioning, all of which may be impacting the breastfeeding process.

Once your baby is here, we can help if you or your newborn are:

  • Experiencing a painful latch
  • Difficulty maintaining a latch
  • Showing limited weight gain
  • Fussy or discontent following a feed

What causes feeding and swallowing disorders?

The following are some causes of feeding and swallowing disorders in children:

  • nervous system disorders (e.g., cerebral palsy, meningitis, encephalopathy)
  • gastrointestinal conditions (e.g., reflux, “short gut” syndrome)
  • prematurity and/or low birth weight (history of intubation or feeding tube)
  • heart disease
  • cleft lip and/or palate
  • conditions affecting the airway
  • autism
  • head and neck abnormalities
  • muscle weakness in the face and neck
  • multiple medical problems
  • respiratory difficulties
  • medications that may cause lethargy or decreased appetite
  • problems with parent-child interactions at meal times
  • Sensory Processing Disorder
 

New client feeding evaluation forms

To assist you with getting the most out of your first feeding therapy visit, please print and complete the age appropriate evaluation form:

  1. Feeding Evaluation Questionnaire 0 – 6 Years 
  2. Feeding Evaluation Questionnaire 7 Years and older 

Our evaluation process

In order to obtain a clear picture of your child’s needs, our therapists will complete an evaluation.  We will obtain medical history and a food diary, discuss symptoms, and gather information regarding overall development.  The therapist will then conduct an assessment to look at the strength and movement of the muscles involved in the oral phase of feeding as well as observe feeding to see your child’ s posture, behavior, and oral movements during eating and drinking.

Our treatment approach

If feeding therapy is recommended, we will work closely with both the child and family to develop an individualized treatment plan. The following are examples of areas that may be the focus of intervention:

  • making the muscles of the mouth stronger including the jaw, lips and tongue
  • increasing tongue movement to better control food inside the oral cavity
  • improving chewing for various types of textures including soft and crunchy
  • strengthening the core muscles that promote optimal positioning for feeding
  • increasing acceptance of different foods and liquids
  • improving sucking and/or drinking ability
  • providing sensory input to increase awareness or decrease sensitivity in and around the mouth
  • improving self feeding skills

What Clients Are Saying

Cheshire Fitness Zone has been absolutely wonderful for my family. All of the staff and therapists treat the children with respect and truly care about their development. The therapists are always available to ask questions and are extremely knowledgeable. The front desk staff alway works to accommodate our schedule and are always friendly and kind. I always refer Cheshire Fitness Zone to other families who are looking for services for their children.
Anonymous
Cheshire Fitness Zone has been wonderful. The office staff is very welcoming and informative and the OT that my son sees has a genuine interest in my son’s well-being. He always communicates well with me and makes sure to ease all of my concerns. My son loves coming to Cheshire Fitness Zone!
Anonymous
I love working at Cheshire Fitness Zone because the therapy team is always willing to collaborate and share different treatment strategies and therapy techniques. You are never at a loss for ideas!
Anonymous
My girls have been going to Cheshire Fitness Zone since the summer of 2015 and the therapy they receive from their therapist is the best therapy they have ever received. The therapists are the friendliest and nicest group of therapists we have ever met. The girls enjoy going to therapy and I am very happy that we go to Cheshire Fitness Zone.
Anonymous
We have been coming to Cheshire Fitness Zone for more than two years. The therapists are friendly, compassionate, and professional. Not only do they do a fabulous job with the therapy, but they also consider the individual behavioral needs for our son. They are caring while pushing him to achieve goals that at times he might feel he can do and he does. Thank you to Craig and the staff for all that you do!
The Smedbergs
I honestly can’t thank you enough for all the time you spent with us and the very valuable advice that you gave.
The Cristo Family
From the moment you check in at the front desk to your discussion with your therapist at the end of the session, you feel at home, respected, and in great hands. The improvements you will see in your child will say it all.
Melissa Linehan
I am so happy we found Cheshire Fitness Zone. This is just what my son needs. His school also heard of you guys and said great things. I’m happy to know he is in good hands.
Anonymous
Cheshire Fitness Zone therapists offer hope, encouragement, and creativity. They deliver on persistence, personal gains, and individual growth because they genuinely care. In spite of working on the steps to tie his shoes for over six months at a different facility, at Cheshire Fitness Zone Erin never lost hope or let him quit. Although he had no idea each week she worked on skills that when put together would tie a shoe. She approached the idea of tying many times only to be met with complete resistance and totally shutting down. Then one day he came to me after his session and said, ‘Hey mom, guess what? I can tie my shoes.’ When I saw the pride in his eyes and the encouragement on Erin’s face I knew he had done it. It was one of the happiest moments of his childhood. What a gift…self-pride and independence.
Stacey Lyn
We can’t thank you enough. I don’t think we would be where we are if it wasn’t for your care, guidance, and support for Cole and us.
Joyce Ann Piepenbring

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