“Feeding is not solely a task of nutritional intake, but also has many social correlates in infancy and throughout the lifespan.” --Catherine Shaker
Mealtime is an intimate and powerful experience. When there are difficulties with feeding and swallowing, this results in a negative impact on not only the infant or child, but the entire family dynamic. In our feeding program, our Speech-Language Pathologists are trained to assist you in fostering functional, safe and positive mealtime experiences. We treat a variety of feeding and swallowing disorders in infants and children related to developmental disabilities, prematurity, neuromuscular deficits, oral motor dysfunction, sensory processing challenges or other complex medical pathologies. Our clinicians utilize a wide variety of evidence-based techniques to ensure that your child receives excellent and comprehensive care for functional improvements in their mealtime skills. Our program believes in a consistently collaborative approach to therapy. We regularly communicate with all members of your feeding team including but not limited to pediatricians, ENTs, gastroenterologists, neurologists, nutritionists, allied health professionals and more.
Red Flags of Pediatric Feeding Disorder:
1. Coughing, color changes, watery eyes, gagging during or immediately after, mealtime.
2. Extreme physiological response to food presentation (sensory overload, fight or flight response, panicked breath patterns, crying/tantrums.)
3. Abnormal on the growth curve/failure to thrive.
4. A diet excluding many food groups (protein, fruits, vegetables, grains etc.) and resulting in severe nutritional or vitamin deficiency.
5. Oral aversion (doesn't like sensation around the face or mouth.)
7. Difficulties with suck-swallow-breathe, compression, suction or latching during breast or bottle feeding.
8. Fatigue during or immediately following mealtime
9. Difficulty breathing or poor breath patterns when eating (may require frequent breaks.)
10. Food or liquid spilling from the mouth when eating/drinking.
11. Challenges with biting and/or chewing food rhythmically and enough to prepare for swallowing/taking a long time to chew food.
12. Problems with moving the tongue in order to move food around in the mouth.
13. Frequent emesis (vomiting) as related to mealtime.
14. Pocketing food in the cheeks and on the palate.
15. Significant leftover food residue on tongue, cheeks, palate after swallow.
16. Back arching, finger splaying, color changes during breast or bottle feeding.
Jessica earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Arizona State University. She spent several years in the workforce before finding her ideal field of study and earning her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of New Mexico. She enjoys working with diverse populations and ages and has an interest in pediatric feeding. When not practicing speech-language pathology Jessica loves spending time with her daughters, looking for the best take-out, and taking in those beautiful New Mexico sunsets.