A dysphagia assessment is an assessment of eating, drinking and swallowing skills. It is used by the speech and language therapist to establish what difficulties the child is experiencing when eating and drinking as well as determining the child’s chances of aspiration from an unsafe swallow. This assessment can be used with all children who have difficulties with eating and drinking.
Speech and language therapists can help ensure children maintain a safe and effective swallow while eating and drinking. Speech and language therapists aim to increase a child’s enjoyment around meal times and reduce both child and parental anxiety by educating and increasing safe and effective swallowing skills.
Benefits of a dysphagia assessment
- Identification of eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties.
- Identification of risk factors.
- Information gained will aid the speech and language therapist in creating an individualised therapy programme and specific advice.
A dysphagia assessment is beneficial for your child as it can help to establish what difficulties your child is having with eating, drinking and swallowing, as well as identifying the risks associated with choking or aspirating. The information gained from the assessment will help create individualised therapy and advice for your child.
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What will the dysphagia assessment assess?
The speech and language therapist will assess your child’s skills around eating, drinking and swallowing. This will include the following:
- Background information, case history and medical notes, opinions from parents professionals and child if appropriate.
- Basic assessment of communication skills.
- Oral and oral-motor examination.
- Observation of mealtime or oral trial of food and drink.
- General observation of eating and drinking.
The dysphagia assessment will help the speech and language therapist to determine the exact difficulties your child is experiencing and determine the impact it is having on their social and emotional wellbeing.
Why is a dysphagia assessment needed?
The type and severity of dysphagia can vary between children, however it is often the case that difficulties with eating, drinking and swallowing can cause anxiety, embarrassment and a lack of social interaction around mealtimes and activities associated with eating and drinking. For most people eating and drinking can bring enjoyment, however, children with dysphagia and their parents can often feel apprehensive and anxious. Dysphagia can also be very dangerous and can cause excessive coughing, aspiration and choking, as well as the risk of malnutrition, dehydration and lacking important vitamins and nutrients.
Typical conditions that require a dysphagia assessment:
Below are some of the common conditions a dysphagia assessment may be needed for:
- Developmental disability
- Neurological disorders e.g. cerebral palsy
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Neuromuscular conditions
- Structural abnormalities e.g. cleft lip and palate
- Gastro-oesophageal reflux
- Acquired head / brain injury or stroke
- Pulmonary disease
- Genetic syndromes
- Sensory difficulties
- Behavioural issues
- Social, emotional and environmental issues
Our speech and language therapists can help all children with a variety of disorders, conditions and difficulties, including those who have not yet been identified or diagnosed with a particular condition. The dysphagia assessment will help establish what difficulties you child is experiencing around eating, drinking and swallowing and the impact it is having on their quality of life. Our speech and language therapists aim to help children maintain a safe and effective swallow and increase their activity, participation and enjoyment around food and drink related activities.
What information will I receive following a dysphagia assessment?
After an assessment our speech and language therapist will provide a summary of the assessment and its results. Following an assessment, you can request a report that details the findings of the assessment. The report will also contain information about how the difficulties are impacting on your child’s daily activity and quality of life. The report will contain a treatment plan as well as recommendations on how to improve your child’s eating, drinking and swallowing skills.
Treatment following a dysphagia assessment
Some of the available dysphagia and language therapy paediatric treatments are listed below:
- Behavioural intervention.
- Environmental modifications.
- Postural positioning techniques.
- Safe swallowing advice for child and parents / carers.
- Diet modification.
- Change in equipment and utensils.
- Oro-motor exercises.
- Sensory stimulation.
We offer a wide range of treatments, if you feel that your child could benefit from a certain therapy programme or intervention style contact our speech and language therapists for more detail.
The dysphagia assessment is used to identify difficulties with eating, drinking and swallowing. The dysphagia assessment is suitable for a range of conditions and can identify the causes of excessive coughing, choking or aspiration at meal times, food refusal and chewing and swallowing difficulties.
Our dysphagia assessments are used to assess and identify difficulties with swallowing, eating and drinking in order to inform your treatment plan. If you would like more information on our assessments please email email@example.com or call on 0330 088 2298.