“There was an old lady who swallowed a fly….” – Rose Bonne

Today’s blog covers off a little on swallowing and how it is related to Speech Pathology.

I am someone who loves to work with children and adults in helping them with their difficulties in communication and swallowing.

I am often asked socially, “Why would a speech pathologist work with swallowing?” The simple answer is “The muscles that we use for talking, are the same muscles we use for eating and drinking.”

This can sometimes lead to more questions that I am always happy to answer. Next question is often “When would you need to see someone for their swallowing difficulties?”

There are many instances wherea speech pathologist is called in to assess clients with swallowing difficulties but the example I often use to answer this general query is, “Well, if someone has experienced a stroke, that person may have a lot of difficulty trying to swallow fluid without coughing, so this is when I step in to assess what is going on and work out how to help this person stop coughing on fluids.”

I may also get a question regarding specific colour preferences with food choices, “My child only eats ‘yellow’ foods. Why?” . This is when it becomes difficult to answer. There is no simple answer to why a child is only eating, ‘yellow’ foods for example. It may be related to wanting to be independent and choosing what they want to eat. It may be related to an obsessive compulsive sign to have every thing the same. It may even be a way to regulate the sensory overstimulation that this child is receiving. It may be a swallowing issue that requires further investigation.

In summary, yes, we Speechies do cover swallowing for a variety of reasons. It may be an adult who is dealing with a degenerative condition or who has had a significant brain event, it may be a child who is considered a ‘fussy eater’ or may have a condition from birth that requires equipment in assisting feeding at mealtimes.

I just hope that the “old lady who swallowed the fly” did not cough or choke on it. She may have needed a speech pathologist ready to offer a helping hand if she did.