When a child has difficulty eating, it can be very stressful for all members of the family. The Outpatient Speech Pathology Department at Arkansas Children's Hospital offers expertise in the evaluation of functional feeding skills and provides families support with these complex challenges. During this assessment, your child will receive a clinical evaluation of oral motor/sensory skills, developmental feeding skills, and swallowing during directed play activities and with a mealtime/snack time.

Parents are encouraged to bring foods from home to make the evaluation as realistic as possible. It is helpful to bring some preferred foods that your child accepts, as well as foods that he/she refuses to eat. Also, bringing preferred utensils may be beneficial. Varieties of textures/flavors of foods may also be provided by the examiner. Your child may participate in the evaluation more readily if he/she is hungry; therefore, we prefer that parents not feed the child approximately 2-3 hours prior to the appointment time. Family members are encouraged to participate in this evaluation. Families should allow approximately 1-2 hours for the completion of this assessment.

Following the assessment, the examiner will provide the family with recommendations and will follow up with a detailed evaluation report. Should the examiner deem appropriate, suggestions for referrals to other specialties such as otolaryngology, gastroenterology, pulmonary, nutrition, etc. may be provided to the referring physician.

If your child exhibits any of the following symptoms, he/she may benefit from a Functional Feeding Evaluation:

  • Gagging with textured foods
  • Very limited number of foods
  • Refusal of certain textures of foods or of whole food groups
  • Poor weight gain
  • Increased time to eat (takes longer than 20-30 minutes to eat a meal)
  • Difficulty chewing/swallowing foods
  • Difficulty transitioning from non-oral source (G-tube) to oral source of nutrition