If you work in a special education class or a day habilitation setting, more than likely you are teaching a student or an individual with complex needs including the use of a feeding tube.
February 8-12 is recognized as Feeding Tube Awareness Month which is a great opportunity to provide information on tube feeding in an educational setting. According to the Tube Feeding Awareness Foundation, there are over 300 conditions that require students and individuals to receive nutritional support through tube feeding.
What is a feeding tube?
A feeding tube is a device that is inserted in the stomach wall and goes directly into the stomach. It bypasses chewing and swallowing in a student or individual who no longer has the ability to safely eat or drink. This allows for students and individuals to receive adequate nutritional support.
A feeding tube is also used for students and adults who cannot take in enough food by mouth. Feeding tubes can be temporary or permanent .
Reasons to use a feeding tube
The student or individual may have a swallowing disorder or dysphasia. This means there is an increase risk for the student or individual to aspirate their foods or liquids into their lungs. Causes of swallowing problems include low-muscle tone, brain injury, genetic conditions, sensory issues, neurological conditions, cleft lip/palate and birth defects of the esophagus or stomach.
Types of Feeding Tubes
Gatro Feeding Tube
The gastrostomy tube (G tube) is placed through the skin into the stomach. The stomach and the skin usually heal in 5-7 days. This type of tube is generally used in people with developmental disabilities for long term feeding.
Nasogastric Feeding Tube
The nasogastric (NG tube) is inserted through the nose, into the swallowing tube and into the stomach. The NG tube is typically used in the hospital to drain fluid from the stomach for short term tube feeding.
Neurological and Genetic Conditions Requiring Tube Feeding
Some students and individuals with neurological and genetic conditions often require tube feeding due to gastrointestinal issues including constipation, reflux, and abnormal food-related behaviors. It For example, it is estimate that 11% of children with cerebral palsy use a feeding tube due to difficulty with eating, swallowing, and drinking.
The following are different types of neurological or genetic conditions that may require the use of a feeding tube.
You may be working with a child or an adult that uses an AAC communication device. Are you familiar with low-tech AAC devices?
According to Beukelman and Mirenda (2013), an estimated 1.3 percent of Americans cannot meet their daily needs communication needs using natural speech. Using low-tech AAC is one way to help children and adults with limited communication skills.
What is AAC?
AAC or Augmentative and Alternative Communication includes various methods of communication systems including communication devices, strategies and tools that helps a person communicate their wants, needs and thoughts specifically for children and adults who have limited communication skills.
What are the benefits of using AAC?
Studies show improvement in language development, literacy and communication among users including the use of picture exchange. There is also research that shows people working with an AAC are able to:
take turns appropriately
decrease challenging behavior
improve receptive and expressive skills.
Who uses an AAC?
Children with developmental delays including motor, cognitive and physical limitations including children and adults with:
Eat, Think and Speak– a blog written for medical Speech and Language Pathologist on topics relating to swallowing, communication and cognition. Provides a blog article on free low-tech material including a wide variety of premade communication boards
Project Core– Provide free sample lesson plans focusing on talking with one word at a time to using correct grammar and word order.