The Effects of an Oral-Sensory Protocol on Individuals with Feeding and Speech Problems

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According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, a feeding disorder is defined by the following: disordered placement of food in the mouth; difficulty in food manipulation prior to initiation of the swallow, including mastication, and the oral stage of the swallow, when the bolus is propelled backward by the tongue. In pediatrics, this term may be used to describe a failure to develop or demonstrate developmentally appropriate eating and drinking behaviors (ASHA 2002).

Throughout recent decades it has been noted that children with developmental disabilities experience or are at risk for feeding -related difficulties. Such difficulties may be caused by medical reasons such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, oral motor dysfunction, and pharyngoesophageal dyskinseia, or are learned behaviors of aversion to specific sensory aspects of food (Cermak, Curtin, and Bandini, 2010; Schwarz et al., 2001; Tomcheck & Dunn, 2007). One area in which food selectivity is often noted involves individuals diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder. These individuals exhibit characteristics of sensory sensitivity as well as atypical eating behaviors such as food refusal, selectivity, or unusual behavioral rituals surrounding mealtimes (Cermak, Curtin, and Bandini, 2010). With the prevalence of Autism spectrum disorders now affecting 1 in 150 children in the United States, the implication for feeding intervention is considerable.

However, children and adults with autism are not the only group of individuals at risk for feeding problems. As mentioned previously, health status of infants or children can also affect eating habits, and often times results in food aversion and limited food repertoires affecting energy consumption and nutri...

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Works Cited

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2002). Knowledge and Skills Needed by

Speech-Language Pathologists Providing Services to Individuals with Swallowing and/or

Feeding Disorders [Knowledge and Skills]. Available from

Cermak, S.A., Curtin, C., and Bandini, L.G. (2010). Food Selectivity and Sensory Sensitivity in

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 110(2), 238-246.

Schwarz, S.M., Corredor, J.F., Cohen, J., and Simon, R. (2001). Diagnosis and Treatment of

Feeding Disorders in Children with Developmental Disabilities. Pediatrics,108, 671-


Tomcheck, S.D. and Dunn, W. (2007). Sensory Processing in Children With and Without Autism: A Comparative Study Using the Short Sensory Profile. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61(2), 190-200.
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