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Feeding Clinic at Sie Center: A Valuable Resource

For over 5 years, the Sie Center has been supporting children with Down syndrome and their families by offering a variety of specialized clinics including the Feeding Clinic.

The Feeding Clinic is comprised of several experts in Down syndrome who conduct an overall assessment and provide a multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach to care. These specialists include a Developmental Pediatrician or Nurse Practitioner, Physical Therapist, Feeding and Swallowing Specialist, and Social Worker. There are times when it is necessary to have nutrition or a lactation specialist come to the Sie Center to consult on a patient as well.

Arwen Jackson

Arwen Jackson

Arwen Jackson, MA, CCC-SLP, a feeding and swallowing specialist at the Sie Center, describes the clinic as an ideal place to come for determining specific strategies and appropriate next steps to assist in safe and efficient eating and drinking. Eating and drinking are both critical issues for children with Down syndrome because they are prone to feeding and swallowing challenges.

“Children with Down syndrome can present with medical conditions that impact breathing, endurance, and digestion. The multi-disciplinary approach of the Sie Center allows families to receive hands on care from multiple specialists in one clinical appointment,” says Jackson.

The feeding clinic takes place once a week on Thursday mornings. They usually see 3-4 patients and appointments last around three hours. Parents can expect to receive supportive strategies and feeding equipment based on the child’s particular needs. Additionally, they will get specific goals and recommendations for type and frequency of therapy when needed. Jackson describes the most rewarding part of a clinic visit as “watching a caregiver smile in response to a successful feeding experience.”

For parents experiencing feeding and swallowing issues, Jackson offers the following guidance as a starting point:

1. Safe and supportive positioning is crucial for the child’s success with oral feeding especially in the presence of low muscle tone.

2. Feeding development is best supported within the context of a typical mealtime routine, when a child is offered foods that match their oral motor skills, and their caregivers pay attention to their child’s verbal and non-verbal communication.

3. Seek help from a feeding and swallowing specialist if you observe coughing or choking during drinking, unexplained respiratory illnesses, concerns with weight gain, overstuffing and pocketing of foods, refusal behaviors, decreased variety and volume of food consumed, delayed attainment of self-feeding skills, or challenges transitioning to cup drinking.

As part of a network of affiliates including the Global Down Syndrome Foundation and the Linda Crnic Institute, the Sie Center for Down Syndrome helps advance the total care of children with Down syndrome by providing excellent medical care, therapy, research and advocacy. For more information visit www.siecenter.org.

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