Monday, April 13, 2009

Early Intervention Feeding

As many of you know I travel a lot for business. I am now in NYC for my youngest daughter's graduation and to see a few clients. It amazes me how many of these kids still do not have therapists who know about early intervention feeding. I saw a child today with a significant tongue protrusion during swallowing and talking. The home-based therapist told this mother to press down on the child's tongue blade with the spoon to stimulate retraction. Mom was also told to press in on the tongue tip whenever the child's tongue blade was "hanging out of the mouth." Mom followed this professional's suggestions to a “T.” Guess what happened? Three weeks later this kid has a stronger tongue protrusion and does not want mom to put a spoon with "anything" in her mouth. When I teach my feeding class to the Special Educators at the University of Arizona I have them do these 2 tasks and feel what their students will be feeling. The response is generally a gag and a desire to stick the tongue tip out.

SLPs and OTs are being asked to do early intervention feeding with clients as part of our birth-t0-3 jobs. Before feeding anyone I would require them to watch Lori Overland's DVD: Feeding: A Sensory-Motor Approach.

We have to stop feeding kids like we "think" they should be fed and start feeding them to promote safe feeding and improve speech clarity.


  1. Sara, thanks for beating this drum.

  2. This is good info, and of course contrary to what we've been told as well. I don't have much faith in our therapists though, so there's that.

    What's a parent to do?

  3. I know how you feel. Everyday I get emails from parents who are frustrated with the limited information they get from their therapists. It really is not the therapist's fault as we are not taught how to do therapeutic feeding in our undergraduate or graduate programs but we are expected to teach feeding to our clients.

    In an attempt to educate therapists we have started a training program at TalkTools. You can get the therapists names by going to www.talktools. In addition did you know we have therapists who travel to do "Travel Clinics?" That information is also on the site. Do you live near St. Louis? I will be there tomorrow doing a "Travel Clinc."

  4. I definitely agree there needs to be more training. I am a speech-language pathologist working in early intervention. I do not usually work with kiddos with feeding/swallowing issues because I do not feel adequate enough to meet their needs. Yet I am so eager to learn! What I also find, however, is that I cannot afford the trainings! I am self-employed and most trainings start around $400. It is a frustrating issue for parents, understandably, but for therapists as well, as most of us are just trying to do our best with what we have been taught in our university programs.