Aspiration Precautions

Children and adults with developmental disabilities often face challenges with eating, drinking and swallowing disorders than the general population. It is estimated that adults with intellectual disabilities require support from caregivers during mealtime. It is common among people who have a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, physical  disability and muscular dystrophy.

Dysphasia is a medical term used to describe any person having difficulty swallowing foods and liquids taking  more energy and time to move food from the mouth to the stomach. Signs of dysphasia may include:

  • Drooling
  • Food or liquid remaining in the oral cavity after swallowing
  • Complaints of pain when swallowing
  • Coughing during or right after eating or drinking
  • Extra time needed to chew or swallow
  • Reflux of food

Dysphasia can lead to aspiration. Aspiration is defined when food, fluid, or other foreign material gets into the trachea or lungs instead of going down the esophagus and into the stomach. when this occurs, the person is able to cough to get the food or fluid out of their lungs, in some cases especially with children and adults with disabilities may not be able to cough. This is known as Silent Aspiration.

A complication of aspiration is Pneumonia which is defined as inhaling food, saliva, and liquids into the lungs

According to the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities Health and safety Alert, factors that place people at risk for aspiration include:

  • Being fed by others
  • Weak or absent coughing, and/or gag reflexes, commonly seen in people with cerebral palsy.
  • food stuffing and rapid eating/drinking
  • Poor chewing or swallowing pills
  • GERD- the return of partially digested food or stomach contents to the esophagus
  • Providing liquids or food consistencies the person is not able to tolerate such as eating whole foods.
  • Seizures that may occur during eating and/or drinking.

How to recognize signs and symptoms of Aspiration:

  • Choking or coughing while eating or just after eating
  • Drooling while eating or just after eating
  • Eyes start to water
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever 30 minutes after eating
Intervene immediate if there are signs of aspiration:
  • Stop feeding immediately
  • Keep the person in an upright position
  • Call 911 if the person has difficulty or stops breathing and no pulse
  • Start rescue breathing

Minimize aspiration from occurring by serving the appropriate food texture and liquid consistency. If you are not sure of the right consistency, check with your health care provider. The following are pictures of food consistencies.

Courtesy of OPWDD

Courtesy of OPWDD

Whole. Food is served as it is normally prepared; no changes are needed in
preparation or consistency

Courtesy of OPWDD

1 ” Pieces cut to size. Food is served as prepared and cut into 1-inch pieces
(about the width of a fork).

Courtesy of OPWDD

1/4 Pieces Cut to Size. Food is cut with a knife or a pizza cutter or placed in a food
processor and cut into ¼ -inch pieces (about the width of a #2 pencil)

Courtesy of OPWDD

Ground. Food must be prepared using a food processor or comparable equipment
until MOIST, COHESIVE AND NO LARGER THAN A GRAIN OF RICE, or relish
like pieces, similar to pickle relish. Ground food must always be moist. Ground meat
is moistened with a liquid either before or after being prepared in the food processor
and is ALWAYS served with a moistener such as broth, low fat sauce, gravy or
appropriate condiment. Hard, dry ground particles are easy to inhale and must be
avoided.

 

Courtesy of OPWDD

Pureed. Food must be prepared using a food processor or comparable equipment.
All foods are moistened and processed until smooth, achieving an applesauce-like or
pudding consistency. A spoon should NOT stand up in the food, but the consistency
should not be runny. Each food item is to be pureed separately, unless foods are
prepared in a mixture such as a soup, stew, casserole, or salad.

Aspiration Precautions

  • Make sure the person eats slowly and takes small bites of food
  •  Ensure the person takes small sips of liquids
  • Focus on the person’s swallowing
  • Make sure the person remains upright for a minimum of thirty minutes after eating
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Williams Syndrome- Facts and Statistics

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May is Williams Syndrome Awareness Month. It is a rare genetic condition that affects over 1 in 10,000 people worldwide. If you teach in a special needs classroom or work in an adult day habilitation program, it is likely you have experienced working and teaching a student or individual diagnosed with Williams Syndrome. Below you will find some interesting facts and statistics on the disorder:

  • It is a genetic condition that is present a birth.
  • It is a developmental disorder
  • Tend to have a mild or moderate intellectual disability.
  • It is also known as Beuren Syndrome and Williams-Beuren Syndrome.
  • The symptoms were first described by John C.P. Williams in 1961.
  • A year later, German Physician, A.J. Beuren described three new incidents of patients with similar facial features.
  • It is caused by the spontaneous deletion of 26-28 genes on Chromosome #7
  • The deletion is caused by either the sperm or the egg.
  • The deletion is present at the time of conception
  • The most common symptoms of Williams Syndrome includes unusual facial features and heart defects.
  • The diagnosis is typically confirmed after identifying facial features and genetic testing.
  • An individual with Williams Syndrome has a 50% chance of passing the disorder on to their children.
  • Williams Syndrome affects 1 in 10,000 people worldwide.
  • An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 people in the United States are affected.
  • It occurs in both males and females equally
  • It is found in every culture
  • Individuals with Williams Syndrome tend to be overly friendly.
  • People with Williams Syndrome often have difficulty with visual-spatial tasks
  • Congenital heart defects (CHD) occur in approximately 75 percent of children
  • By the age of 30, the majority of individuals with Williams Syndrome have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

 

 

References

Genetics Home Reference

National Organizations for Rare Diseases

William Syndrome Association