SWALLOWING DISORDERS (DYSPHAGIA)

Dysphagia refers to a difficulty in swallowing. Although dysphagia can occur in anyone, it is more common in older adults following a neurological or ischemic (e.g. stroke) event or in children with developmental disabilities. Dysphagia varies in severity.

WARNING SIGNS TO LOOK OUT FOR

  • Multiple swallows required for food or liquid

  • Gagging, choking or coughing during or right after a swallow

  • Regurgitation of food or liquid

  • Sensation of food or liquid being “stuck” in some part of the throat or chest

  • Pain during swallowing

  • Loss of weight due to reduced nutritional intake

0-4 MONTH MILESTONES

  • Consuming liquid consistency

  • Suckling mother or bottle nipple

4-6 MONTH MILESTONES

  • Consuming purees

  • Suckling off a spoon

6-9 MONTH MILESTONES

  • Consuming purees and soft chewables

  • Drinking from a cup

  • Vertical munching

  • Limited lateral tongue movements

  • Assisted feeding with a spoon

  • Beginnings of finger feeding

9-12 MONTH MILESTONES

  • Consuming ground and lumpy purees

  • Drinking independently from a cup

  • Finger feeding

  • Grasping a spoon with whole hand

12-18 MONTH MILESTONES

  • Consuming all textures

  • Lateral tongue action emerges

  • Increased independence for feeding

  • Straw drinking

  • Scoops food and brings it to mouth

18-24 MONTH MILESTONES

  • Consuming more chewable food

  • Rotary chewing by 24 months

  • Increased food intake

24+ MONTH MILESTONES

  • Consuming tougher solids

  • Increased mature chewing for 'tougher' solids

  • Independent self feeding

  • Increased use of forks

  • Cup drinking with an open cup and no spilling