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Caring for children with oral motor and oral sensory problems

Learn how our Gastroenterology, Liver and Nutrition Program cares for children with oral-motor and oral-sensory problems

Related tests and treatments:

Our approach to oral-motor and oral-sensory problems

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is one of only a handful of pediatric programs in the country that offers a truly interdisciplinary approach to feeding disorders, where specialists from different disciplines (gastroenterology, speech pathology and psychology) see your child in the same clinic on the same day to offer the most comprehensive and efficient care. As one of the largest feeding disorders programs in the nation, we have vast experience treating oral-motor and oral-sensory problems and specialize in children with complex medical needs. Our experts are internationally known for their leadership and research in the field of pediatric feeding disorders.

Oral-motor and oral-sensory problems services we offer

Most patients can be managed through our outpatient program, but we also offer an intensive, two-week inpatient feeding program for more complex cases.

Diagnosing and treating oral-motor and oral-sensory problems

Your child’s initial visit will include:

  • A thorough medical history, with a focus on your child’s eating since birth
  • An oral-sensory motor exam to examine your child’s facial structure, muscle strength, range of motion and sensory reactions
  • Feeding observation to see how your child eats

Children with oral-motor or oral-sensory problems can sometimes have trouble swallowing, so other tests may include:

Treatment depends on your child’s particular problem. If it’s an oral-motor issue, your child may work with a speech pathologist on exercises that strengthen the mouth muscles and improve eating techniques. Sensory problems can be treated with modifications in what or how your child is fed or desensitization therapy (repeated exposure to problematic foods or textures). If there’s a behavioral aspect of your child’s feeding problem, the team might recommend cognitive behavior therapy.

Oral-motor and/or oral-sensory problems are complex and may require months or years of treatment, but we’ll work together to improve your child’s eating habits to maximize your child’s nutrition and quality of life.

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