Children and adults with disabilities often experience difficulties when eating and drinking. Our MEAHLS Team provide specialist advice and support for feeding concerns and mealtime management.
What are feeding issues?
A common feeding issue, especially for people living with disability, is dysphagia. Dysphagia is the term used to describe a difficulty with swallowing. It refers to taking more time and effort to move food or liquid from your mouth to your stomach. Most people will occasionally have difficulty swallowing when food is taken in too fast or food isn’t chewed enough, and this usually isn’t a cause for concern. But when dysphagia is persistent it can be treated with therapeutic intervention. Dysphagia treatment, therapy and support can be given by the MEAHLS team to help children and adults manage their mealtimes.
For children who refuse food or frequently have mealtime tantrums, getting proper nutrition can be an ongoing challenge. In many cases, food refusal can be a normal part of being a toddler and learning to eat. However, in some cases where refusal is related to a medical condition or a symptom of broader sensory issues, therapeutic intervention and treatment can be required to correct the issues.
Eating involves interest in food, muscular coordination, physiological functions, sensory processes and social experiences. The digestive system must function correctly in order to feel sensations of being hungry and full, and sometimes strong reactions to foods can mean different tastes, smells or textures are problematic.
How we can help
Our MEAHLS Team work with individuals, families, other therapists and healthcare professionals to increase safety, comfort and independence during mealtimes.
The experienced team of speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dietitians and psychologists provide specialist advice, evaluation and treatment for a range of feeding concerns including:
- Food refusal and mealtime tantrums
- Poor sucking, swallowing and chewing
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Dependence on liquids
- Faltering growth
How we work
Our MEAHLS Team deliver services in 3 key ways, with services tailored to the needs of each individual, their family and carers.
Where an existing therapy team is better suited to working with the individual and their family/carers, a MEAHLS clinician can consult with the therapy team to develop strategies for implementation.
When more intensive support is required a MEAHLS clinician will work directly with the individual, their family and carers to implement strategies over a period of time.
The MEAHLS Team also offer mealtime managements programs and training for parents, carers and education staff.
Our mealtime management services, including dysphagia treatments, can be accessed through a range of funding options. We can help you find out if you’re eligible and provide further information about the options available.
MEAHLS stands for Mealtime Eating Allied Health Liaison Service.