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

Both of our sons have participated in physical, occupational, and speech therapy at Cheshire Fitness Zone. We make the forty minute trek to Cheshire three times per week because the therapists are like none other we have encountered. Our sons (4 and 5 years old) have received therapy since birth and I was so pleased to have found Cheshire Fitness Zone. Both of my kids have been challenged and nurtured by the therapists. They are so amazing with the kids and I am thankful for their dedication.
Katy Blanchette
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
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
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
Thank you for teaching me everything I know about OT and sensory diets. You go above and beyond for our students and we really appreciate all that you have given us.
Mike Tyler (Director at High Roads School)
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
A five star rating would not be enough for Cheshire Fitness Zone! From the first time I called to schedule my son’s consult to now one year later, we are consistently greeted by the most caring and loving staff. My son goes to Cheshire Fitness Zone for oral motor/speech therapy and sees Miss Kim. When I say she is the best, she truly is! From day one she has put her heart and soul into my child’s therapy. The strides my son has made in one year is amazing. Not only is Kim the nicest person ever, she is extremely knowledgeable in her field and is constantly thinking of new ways to improve my son’s speech.
Nicole Rybaruk
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
Cheshire Fitness Zone has tremendously helped not only our two children receiving services, but our entire family. The atmosphere in the clinic is friendly, supportive, and understanding. Their office staff is amazing and accommodates each family’s schedule and needs. Our children receive speech, OT, and PT services. Every one of the therapists they have worked with has been wonderful and our children have made incredible progress. The kids also love going to all of their therapy sessions because the therapists make each and every session fun and exciting. We are so fortunate to have found Cheshire Fitness Zone and recommend it to any family looking for services for their children.
Delia Falcon (Special Education Teacher)
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

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