Useful resources

Below are some things for you to try before you contact the specialist children’s speech and language therapy team.

Eating and drinking difficulties

We see children (from birth to 18 years) with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties (also known as dysphagia) related to their physical, developmental or medical needs. For eating and drinking difficulties only, please complete the dysphagia referral form or call 01208 834 488.

We support children with difficulties in the following areas:

  • difficulties sucking and swallowing
  • coughing on drinks, or other signs of aspirating fluids into the airway and lungs
  • difficulties developing chewing skills
  • coughing or choking on food, or other signs of aspirating food into the airway and lungs

We're not able to support with the following.

  • Sensory-based eating difficulties, such as gagging on or refusing to eat specific foods. The advice is aimed at parents of toddlers, but it can be useful for older children too. If your child has an occupational therapist and/or dietitian involved, please speak to them for advice.
  • Restricted diets, including avoidant and restrictive food intake disorder. Please speak to your GP or paediatrician about making a referral to a dietitian and/or the CAMHS and learning disabilities team. Get advice on selective eating.
  • Difficulties with weaning to solids in babies who do not have additional physical, medical or developmental needs. Please speak to your health visitor, GP, or visit the Start 4 Life website.

If you’re not sure and would like to speak to a specialist speech and language therapist for dysphagia, please call 01208 834 488. A member of the dysphagia team will return your call as soon as possible.

What happens at a dysphagia assessment?

Your child will be seen at home, or if it’s more appropriate in their pre-school, education or care setting. Inpatients will be seen in hospital.

The therapist will take a case history and observe your child eating and/or drinking. Following the assessment, your therapist will write a report with recommendations and will discuss sharing this report with any other professionals who may be involved in your child’s care. You and the education or care setting may also receive a mealtime plan to describe your child’s feeding recommendations in detail such as positioning, textures to be offered or avoided.

What happens after assessment?

Depending on your child’s needs, they may be offered a review appointment to monitor progress with the recommendations or the case may be closed with the option to re-refer if required.

Your child’s case will be closed when they have developed their eating and drinking skills to their potential, or when they have the appropriate personalised mealtime plan to ensure that they are able to eat and drink safely.