Feeding and Swallowing Disorders Program
The Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Disorders Program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is designed for infants, toddlers, and adolescents who have a variety of feeding and swallowing difficulties, including dysphagia, Failure to Thrive, feeding-tube dependency, oral-motor difficulties, and food/oral aversion.
The team works closely with the child's specialty medical professionals, such as those specializing in medical nutrition therapy, gastroenterology, pulmonology, otolaryngology, cardiology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy, to ensure an interdisciplinary approach to the feeding disorder. Our services include the evaluation and management of feeding and swallowing disorders. We address the unique needs of each child and family.
Licensed speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists perform all services. They have specialized training in pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders. Our therapists are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) or American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and are licensed to practice in Tennessee.
The Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Disorders Program is one of several areas of specialty evaluation and treatment services provided by speech-language pathology staff within Children's Hospital and the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center's Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences. See Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center for a list of additional speech, language, and hearing diagnostic and therapy services.
We provide services on an outpatient or inpatient basis:
- Feedling evaluations
- Videofluroscopic swallow studies
- Feeding therapy
- Caregiver training
Doctors may refer your child to the Feeding and Swallowing Disorders Program to:
- Rule out aspiration during feeding as potential contributor to respiratory distress
- Assess a patient's oropharyngeal anatomy and physiology during breathing, feeding, and swallowing
- Determine whether a feeding or swallowing impairment can explain poor weight gain
- Obtain a differential diagnosis of the type of feeding or swallowing difficulty present (e.g. oral-motor, sensory, dysphagia, etc.)
- Determine the optimal texture and feeding process for safe and successful oral feeding
- Determine a child's potential for weaning from tube feeds
- Determine whether a child can maintain adequate nutrition and hydration by mouth
- Facilitate appropriate case management with related services (e.g., GI, nutrition, ENT, pulmonology, etc.)
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