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

We have been coming to Cheshire Fitness Zone for fifteen years. Our son has a motor dyspraxia which causes challenges with posture, upper body strength, and affects his fine motor skills too. After coming consistently every week for 1-2 visits he has surpassed many of his physical challenges. Now as a young man he takes physical challenges like 5k’s and bike challenges with a smile. We are grateful to the many physical therapists he has had over the years. Each of them has encouraged him and pushed him to improve in a gentle, but firm way, and always with a sense of humor. Our son looks forward to coming every week.
The Anthony’s
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
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
Cheshire Fitness Zone has been wonderful. We have worked with many of the therapists for OT and PT and have had excellent experiences with all of them. They were very accommodating to our schedule. And even on a day where my son was not into working they are always able to get him to work. Their front office is very pleasant and are always smiling when we arrive. I have to bring my other son when we come and the therapists are always willing to include both of them on days where it is difficult waiting in the lobby.
Don Hamilton
Cheshire Fitness Zone provides staff at our school that understands the role of related service providers in educational settings, meet the educationally related needs of the students, and communicate well with faculty, staff, and parents. They exhibit a high degree of professionalism and state of the art physical therapy.
Anonymous
I am privileged to work with amazing children, wonderful families, skilled therapists, and professional staff each day at Cheshire Fitness Zone. We are a team working toward the best possible outcome for each unique child. I am so thankful to be a part of such a special place.
Anonymous
I am so happy we came to Cheshire Fitness Zone. My daughter injured her hip figure skating. Another physical therapist diagnosed and treated her incorrectly. Luckily when we came to Cheshire Fitness Zone and saw Craig he discovered her injury was something else and much more of a serious injury. In fact, we were referred to a Pedi orthopedist who concluded with Craig’s diagnosis. The orthopedist said it was a good find, very difficult to catch, and often missed. My daughter had surgery and is now recovering and seeing Craig for rehab. She is almost done and doing well. Highly recommended Cheshire Fitness Zone.
Elaine Reilly
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
As a physical therapist at Cheshire Fitness Zone, I have seen firsthand the positive impact therapy services have had on so many children and their families. We are very family-oriented at Cheshire Fitness Zone and are constantly working with our families to help reach their goals for their children. It is an extremely rewarding feeling to see a child learn mobility skills that they were unable to perform prior to starting therapy services. The staff at Cheshire Fitness Zone is dedicated to providing the best care possible for all the children that they work with.
Anonymous
The physical therapists at Cheshire Fitness Zone are warm, caring individuals. They have worked with my daughter for about a year and a half now and she has made tremendous progress building her core strength, coordination, balance, and overall strengthening. I recommend them highly.
Kristine Livolsi

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