What to Expect

Speech and Language Assessment and Therapy

I give each patient an in-depth and comprehensive assessment of their communication skills. As part of this I discuss the findings of any tests and examinations with the carer and patient and agree whether further treatment will take place.

If the carer and child wish to undertake therapy, one-to-one therapy sessions take place with our qualified and experienced speech and language therapist. These sessions are complemented by a tailored programmefor the patient to practice at home. Therapy can be direct, indirect therapy in the form of home programmes, or a combination of both.

The length of treatment varies according to the patient and treatments required. The therapist will discuss the likely length of the treatment programme at the first session.

Parents are taught strategies and skills to supplement and support my therapy in order to optimise the child’s progress.

Assessment and Treatment of Eating and Drinking Difficulties (Dysphagia)

The terms dysphagia describes eating and drinking disorders which may occur in any of the three stages of swallowing. This includes difficulties with the positioning of food in the mouth, the oral movements including sucking, chewing and the process of swallowing. Eating and drinking difficulties can be associated with a number of conditions:

  • Prematurity
  • Neurological difficulties
  • Infectious diseases
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Cardiovascular difficulties
  • Gastrointestinal difficulties
  • Craniofacial conditions
  • Congenital syndromes
  • Learning difficulties
  • Isolated eating and drinking difficulties related to sensory processing difficulties and sensitivities e.g. children with a traumatic feeding history or traumatic medical history

Children who do not receive timely and appropriate management of their feeding difficulties are at an increased risk of:

  • Aspiration i.e. food entering the airway.
  • Respiratory infection
  • Choking
  • Poor nutrition and weight loss
  • Poor health
  • Hospital admission due to respiratory illness
  • Anxiety and distress within the family
    Reduced quality of life

(RCSLT, 2006)

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and the Health Professionals Council of the UK acknowledge the key role the SALT plays in the assessment and treatment of feeding difficulties in both children and adults. The role of the speech and language therapist is 1) to provide a specialist assessment of the child’s feeding skills. 2) to maximise the safety of the child’s feeding potential during strategies which support safe and adequate nutritional intake and 3) identify and manage the risks to the child as a result of the feeding difficulties.

Assessment:

All children referred for input regarding their feeding difficulties or dysphagia will undergo a detailed assessment by a specialist speech and language therapist (SALT). An appointment will be arranged with the parents, which will allow the SALT to observe a meal time. It is important that the SALT is able to observe how your child feeds. For this purpose the assessment needs to happen at the time the child will be willing to feed. The SALT will ask you to bring your child’s drink and/or food along to the appointment.

At the time of the assessment your child will be weighed and measured to determine how your child is growing. Please bring your child’s Red Book along to the appointment in order for the SALT to get an impression of your child’s growth over time.

The SALT will ask you a range of questions regarding your child’s feeding history, nutritional intake, general development, general health and concerns regarding meal times. It is helpful to bring a video clip of a typical meal along to the appointment. This will provide the SALT with additional information regarding your child’s behaviour around meal times at home.

Following the assessment, the SALT will discuss her observations and assessment findings with you. She might recommend further objective assessment of swallow function with videofluorosocpy swallow study or perhaps a referral to other specialists for example dietician or paediatric gastroenterologist.

Treatment:

The treatment of feeding difficulties is a complex process and typically involves the implementation of a combination of strategies. These can include:

All children are unique and therefore the treatment programme is designed to meet the child and the family’s needs. Reviews can be direct during a clinic visit or indirect via telephone or email, depending on the need of the child. Progress is carefully monitored and the programme adapted to optimize each child’s feeding potential in an efficient and effective manner. All treatment is based on evidence for effectiveness and efficiency.

Skype Therapy: Video Conferencing via Skype

The use of technology in speech and language therapy and other health services have expanded exponentially over the last decade. Videoconferencing via Skype allows for easy access to quality speech and language and feeding therapy in cases where regular clinic visits are not an option. Travel time, distance and cost are no longer barriers to intervention. Research has also demonstrated no apparent loss of quality of intervention. All which is required a good wifi/broadband connection, printer, Skype programme and an adult to act as the therapists ‘hands’ as it where to facilitate presentation and manipulation of therapy materials which will be sent electronically prior to the session.

You can download skype below:

Contact me

Bookings and Enquiries: Tel +44 (0) 7860688386

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