How Speech and Feeding Therapists Treat GERD

If your child has GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), you are probably very concerned as a parent, and are eager to hear about a feeding therapy solution that can help your child enjoy nutritious meals without undesirable symptoms like acid reflux or heartburn. Feeding therapy is helpful to children because it deals with a wide array of problems that are associated with GERD including:

  • Reduced or limited food intake
  • Food refusal
  • Food selectivity by type and/or texture
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
  • Oral motor deficits
  • Delayed feeding development
  • Food or swallowing phobias
  • Mealtime tantrums

Impact of GERD on Young Children

Many infants and children with GERD have delayed feeding skills, caused by the pain they associate with feeding. This may cause them to refuse feeding altogether or refuse certain types or textures of foods. When this happens, the child does not develop the oral-motor responses needed for caretakers to safely administer the type of diet that is healthy and beneficial for young children. Some children with GERD may also require tube feedings, again reducing their exposure to oral-motor experiences and delaying their feeding skill development.

Treatment of GERD

Chicago Feeding Therapy provides in-home, pediatric feeding therapy for your child. Karen George, our lead feeding  speech pathologist, and her team of speech and feeding specialists are thoroughly equipped with the knowledge necessary to help your child eat a balanced diet that is appropriate for his or her age. By addressing the feeding problems that often occur in children with GERD, the team at Chicago Speech Therapy can provide the tools necessary to prevent or eliminate nutritional and growth concerns. Our feeding therapists also address unsafe swallowing habits, which if left untreated, can lead to aspiration pneumonia and other complications.

It is important to have a feeding therapist assess the child in order to evaluate his/her oral-motor and swallowing skills. This will determine if a lack of oral-motor skill is interfering with his/her ability to eat an age-appropriate, healthy diet.

A few ways certified feeding pathologists treat GERD include:

  • suggesting follow-up with pediatrician for medical intervention (for example, medicine for reflux)
  • employing direct feeding therapy designed to meet individual needs
  • making nutritional changes under the guidance of a registered dietician (for example, trying different foods, adding calories to food)
  • increasing acceptance of new foods or textures that minimize GERD complications
  • making food temperature and texture changes to inhibit GERD symptoms
  • postural or positioning changes (for example, suggesting a different way of sitting to increase digestion)
  • employing behavior management techniques to help child make positive associations with certain foods

If your child’s development of oral-motor skills is slower than usual or if he or she has symptoms of GERD, it is essential for him/her to undergo feeding therapy as soon as possible.

Contact us at Chicago Speech Therapy by calling 312-399-0370 or by clicking on the button at the upper-right section of this page to get a head start in helping your child overcome any feeding difficulties as soon as possible.

With Chicago Feeding Therapy, you can be sure that the in-home, pediatric feeding therapy is effective. Karen has a passion for infants and children; and because of her varied experience in both speech and feeding therapy, she is able to make treatment not just functional but also enjoyable for your child. She is knowledgeable about the different kinds of feeding treatments that are successful, and believes strongly in the importance of developing healthy eating habits from a young age. Karen went to Marquette University, where she obtained her master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology, and is certified to practice in Illinois.