Ask a Therapist: Feeding Evaluation Questions

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

We are just beginning our feeding clinic at a Medical Center for outpatient pediatrics. I have done one feeding evaluation since taking your class Feeding Therapy: A Sensory-Motor Approach, but now have a child on my caseload with an EXTENSIVE medical history, whom I am to evaluate. He has Tubuler/Tuberous sclerosis (tumors growing in his brain and other organs). He has seizures (is on seizure meds), severe Autism, nonverbal, hyperventilates, central sleep apnea, severe GERD, Bradycardia (when sleeping), desaturations (when tired or sick). He is seen by nearly every doctor imaginable. He had an MBS which showed aspiration with thin liquids, but was cleared for nectar liquids and pureed foods. He does not feed himself; he is held down by a weighted blanket because when awake, he severely injures himself by hitting his face. His adoptive mother indicates he was eating very well (not puree - he refused it, but would eat mechanical soft - whole without chewing) until January when his PO intake severely decreased to where he will only eat 1/2 of a meal. He had a PEG tube, which is now a Mickey tube, and gets G-tube feeds following meals to cover the calories he didn't get by PO means. He needs 1980 calories a day due to his constant effortful breathing. The family's goals for him are to increase PO and be able to chew foods. I did a very brief oral motor stim with him, and he tolerated facial massage and accepted a toothette to his cheeks and tongue. I'm not even sure of what questions to ask, but am thankful for any insight you may be able to provide. Thank you in advance! 

This sounds like a complicated child for your second feeding evaluation! So...the most important thing to remember is ..no extraneous "oral stimulation.” It is important to make sure you are mapping sensory input on to motor goals to support nutritive feeding. As you presented the toothette under his top lip, did you get upper lip mobility? Did he contract his cheek when you did the cheek stretch? Did you observe lateral tongue movement? In your assessment, look at the motor skills he needs to support safe nutritive feeding of texture modified solids and use your pre-feeding exercises to facilitate them. If he doesn't respond to the input you use...you may have to increase the sensory input (i.e.: dip the toothette in ice chips, cautiously experiment with vibration...etc). He sounds like a child who needs intense sensory input (i.e.: the weighted blanket, self abusive behaviors). Has he had a good sensory processing evaluation? If not, this is really important...a good sensory diet may help decrease the self injurious behaviors. I also want you to make sure you look at posture and alignment for both your pre-feeding and feeding programs. As you make observations, feel free to email me.

Good luck!

Lori Overland

Ask a Therapist Autism bradycardia feeding therapy feeding tube G-tube GERD Lori Overland MBS Mickey tube oral stimulation PEG tube sensory input sensory map toothette Tuberous sclerosis Tubuler vibrator & toothette

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