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TherapyTravelers - June 2022

Factors that Influence Feeding and Swallowing

Rhonda Mattingly, Ed.D, CCC-SLP

August 22, 2022



What factors influence feeding and swallowing in children?


We typically see infants and children for feeding therapy or swallowing therapy because there's a disorder or a disruption in some aspect of feeding and or swallowing. The question we have to ask is “why?”  What's the antecedent to that disorder or disruption?  What are some of the factors that influence feeding and swallowing?

  • Medical and genetic diagnoses impact feeding and swallowing. There are so many children who are born premature and when that happens, they are much more susceptible to respiratory complications, congenital heart issues, necrotizing enterocolitis, et cetera. Those medical diagnoses are going to impact that infant on so many levels. Potentially, it makes them unsafe for swallowing but a medical diagnosis of prematurity can result in respiratory compromise.
  • It can also impact the child’s physiological status or motor status. It's definitely going to impact the child from a satiation-hunger standpoint. It's also going to impact the child in terms of the relationship with their parent, because the parent may not get to feed them as they normally would.
  • Developmental delays can influence feeding and swallowing, as can sensory impairments. If a child can't stand the way that something wet feels on their hands, it's unlikely that they are going to be able to interact with it with their mouth, tongue, or lips.
  • Social-emotional issues can influence feeding and swallowing.  Certainly, some atypical social-emotional relationships can influence feeding and swallowing. Structural anomalies can definitely impact feeding and swallowing, particularly when they're not recognized and someone is trying to encourage you to eat and drink, and you're really not comfortable with that.

There is a multitude of other factors that also influence feeding and swallowing. Feeding is so complex, and swallowing is so complex, that any of these factors alone can negatively impact feeding and swallowing.  However, it's important to consider that these factors can coexist.

This Ask the Expert is an excerpt from the course, Management of Behaviors During Feeding and Swallowing Intervention.

rhonda mattingly

Rhonda Mattingly, Ed.D, CCC-SLP

Rhonda Mattingly EdD, CCC-SLP is an associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, H/N Surgery, and Communicative Disorders at the University of Louisville. She teaches courses in early language evaluation and intervention, pediatric feeding and swallowing, cognitive-communicative disorders, professional issues, and topics in audiology. Dr. Mattingly has been practicing for over 32 years and currently provides clinical services to neonates, adolescents, and adults with a variety of disorders including aphasia, cognitive impairment, voice dysfunction, slow feeding of the newborn, and dysphagia within the University of Louisville Healthcare System. She is active in research, publishes in scholarly journals, maintains membership in several professional organizations, and provides interdisciplinary continuing education to professionals across the globe.

Related Courses

Management of Behaviors During Feeding and Swallowing Intervention
Presented by Rhonda Mattingly, Ed.D, CCC-SLP


Rhonda Mattingly, Ed.D, CCC-SLP
Course: #10047Level: Intermediate1.5 Hours
  'I think we as clinicians need to be aware of how behavior impacts our therapy but it isn't the "end all" for all patients'   Read Reviews
This course provides an overview of how behavior is used as communication in pediatric clients with disordered feeding and swallowing. Identification of communicative intent, management of behavior, and implications for treatment are discussed.

Thickened Liquids in Clinical Practice: The Plot “Thickens”
Presented by Angela Mansolillo, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S
Live WebinarTue, Mar 14, 2023 at 3:00 pm EDT
Tue, Mar 14, 2023 at 3:00 pm EDT


Angela Mansolillo, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-S
Course: #10497Level: Intermediate1 Hour
Clinicians who utilize thickened liquids in their clinical practice are aware of their benefits, but what about the risks and contra-indications? Advantages and disadvantages of thickened liquids are reviewed in this course with a focus on clinical outcomes, including medication impacts, lung health, and hydration. Product types are evaluated to facilitate appropriate product choices.

Dysphagia in Neurodegenerative Disease
Presented by Debra M. Suiter, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-S


Debra M. Suiter, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-S
Course: #9732Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'Everything was important'   Read Reviews
Dysphagia is common in individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson’s disease. This course discusses the underlying pathophysiology and appropriate treatment programs for each disease, as well as use of alternate methods of nutrition/hydration.

Understanding Mental Health in Older Adults
Presented by Gabrielle Juliano-Villani, LCSW


Gabrielle Juliano-Villani, LCSW
Course: #10246Level: Introductory1 Hour
  'Good information'   Read Reviews
Mental health issues concerning older adults are discussed in this course. Topics include the intersection between mental and physical health, symptoms of common mental health disorders in this population, and referral criteria.

Connecting with the Preverbal Child to Increase Social Communication
Presented by Lisa R. Audet, PhD, CCC-SLP


Lisa R. Audet, PhD, CCC-SLP
Course: #10247Level: Intermediate1 Hour
  'Easily understandable concepts in a very complex problem'   Read Reviews
Children with autism who have minimal verbal skills present particular communication challenges. This course discusses assessment and intervention strategies to evaluate and increase intentionality of communication, as well as support social interaction and language development in this group of children.

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