The Safety Net
Having A Safe Mealtime
We all want a pleasant and safe mealtime. If you have a disability or eat with a family member or friend with a disability who has difficulty with eating and drinking, then special knowledge is helpful to make this a safe and pleasant experience.
The difficulties experienced with eating may be due to poor posture or poor head control and/or limited movement of the lips, jaw or tongue. Difficulty swallowing may be referred to as "dysphagia". Dysphagia may be a symptom of other problems such as some kind of damage to the nervous system, a stroke, spinal cord injury or cerebral palsy. It can also be the side effect from some medication.
*General Signs of swallowing problems:
*Thanks to www.asha.org, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association for this list. Visit their site for more information.
When a person experiences difficulty swallowing, they should be evaluated by their physician, and, if possible, a speech language pathologist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist and a nutritionist. The family should participate and, to the extent possible, teachers, nurses and others involved in the daily life of the individual with the swallowing problem. Everybody does not have to gather in one room on the same day but these are the specialists who should examine or consult about the individual with Dysphagia.
In order to have a mealtime that is safe, it is important to have a plan that is developed with the input of all those who have examined the individual. Every person is different! Do not attempt to guess what the person needs. The plan must include the following:
Following these guidelines should lead to a safer and more pleasant mealtime for everyone.
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