Some disabled children have difficulties with eating and drinking. This might be because they have experienced difficulties in the past. Sometimes it can continue, even when the original cause of the difficulty has been resolved.
Warning Always seek professional guidance
A speech and language therapist (SLT) can support you to ensure mealtimes are safe, enjoyable and provide enough nutrition.
Other professionals who may be able to help include:
occupational therapist (OT)
It’s important not to force your child to eat and drink. This will make it even harder for them. Try to make mealtimes as an enjoyable experience as you can.
Heartburn and acid reflux
Heartburn is a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid travelling up towards the throat (acid reflux).
Some people may experience pain or difficulty with swallowing. It can also give an acidic taste in the mouth and cause people to feel sick.
Reflux can make you feel uncomfortable and tired as it can affect your sleep if you eat too close to your bedtime.
Tube feeding may be necessary for some children who refuse or are not able to suck or swallow to get proper nutrition or to avoid food passing into the lungs rather than the stomach.
Some children need tube feeding to make sure they get enough calories to stay healthy.
NGT (Nasogastric Tube)
An NGT tube passes directly into the tummy via the nose.
PEG (Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy)
PEG passes directly through the skin into the stomach.
Some children have some food via their mouth and some food via the tube. Your SLT and dietician will be able to advise how much to give via the mouth and tube.
Some children need tube feeding because they have severe reflux. In certain cases, the tube passes through the stomach into the jejunum. Because this bypasses the stomach, the feed must be continuous. This means your child will have a constant drip of milk going into their jejunum.