Problems with Eating

There can be a number of reasons why someone may be having difficulty eating. Possible causes include:

  • structural abnormalities
  • psychological or behavioural conditions
  • motor or sensory impairments
  • or something unrelated to a condition

Due to the diverse nature of such difficulties, you may work with a multi-disciplinary team that might include:

  • a speech and language therapist
  • a physiotherapist
  • an occupational therapist
  • a dietician
  • a doctor
  • a health visitor (in the case of children)
  • district or community nurse (in the case of adults)
  • the person’s carers
  • and, if appropriate, the disabled person themselves.
  • Eating advice and support

Seeking advice and support

The first step is getting an assessment; contact your health professionals, who will form part of the multi-disciplinary team.

Speech and language at Collett will have access to a therapist specialising in eating. If you are finding it difficult to get help or are not sure who to talk to, your GP's a good starting point for getting specialist help.

Mealtimes aren't just about eating, but can also be a great opportunity for communication and social interaction. They should be enjoyable occasions and as stress-free as possible.

Growing up and gaining more independence

Many people would prefer to be able to sit at the table and feed themselves, even if it takes longer or is messier than being assisted to eat. Being able to choose what you eat and when to eat it is one of life's pleasures for many people. At The Collett School, we can make adaptations for mealtimes, ensuring our pupils can enjoy eating with others.

Most children will learn to feed themselves to some degree eventually. Taking the time and effort to help a person to develop these skills can sometimes also help them in other ways, such as language development, greater awareness of position and movements and hand-eye co-ordination. Our staff manage tables of diners to ensure our pupils are supported in being able to sit with others and engage in the dynamics of eating with others.

Problems with Eating - Further Advice

ARCOS (Association for Rehabilitation of Communication and Oral Skills)
For children and adults who have communication and eating (swallowing) difficulties, their families, carers and others involved. Information, advice, practical help, specialist therapy training and other services not readily available elsewhere.

ASLTIP (The Association of Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice)
Information about independent speech and language therapists.

BAPEN (British Association for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition)
A multi-professional charity whose members include doctors, dieticians, nurses, patients, pharmacists, policy makers and public health and research workers. The charity aims to enhance understanding and management of malnutrition.

BSDH (British Society for Disability and Oral Health)
Aims to improve, preserve and protect the oral health of disabled people.

Disabled Living Foundation (DLF): Solutions for Independent Living
Practical, unbiased information and advice on disability equipment.

Kids with Tubes
Kids with Tubes is an American organisation run by parents offering a variety of support services for parents and caregivers of tube-fed children.

PINNT (Patients on Intravenous and Naso Gastric Nutrition Therapy)
(Half PINNT is the section for children)
Encourages contact and mutual support between members and promotes public awareness and research.

Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT)
The Royal College is the professional body for speech and language therapists in the UK.