DOI: 10.1044/2023_lshss-23-00019 ISSN: 0161-1461

Clinical Feeding and Swallowing Evaluation for the School-Based Speech-Language Pathologist

Elisabeth C. D'Angelo
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics


From preschool through high school, eating is part of the school day. Children with feeding and/or swallowing issues are now in our neighborhood schools, our responsibility in our care, and require adequate nutrition and hydration to participate in school and access the curriculum. The whole child is in school, including all of their medical, behavioral, social, and educational needs. This clinical focus article describes a holistic process of evaluating swallowing and feeding in the school setting for the school speech-language pathologist (SLP) leading the team supporting the child.


This clinical focus article explores the evaluation process in the educational setting for the school SLP in identification of pediatric feeding disorders (PFDs), which can involve dysphagia. Detailed descriptions of the related U.S. educational law, PFD, assessment processes for the multiple systems relating to eating, and collaboration with an interdisciplinary team are highlighted. Using the four overlapping domains of PFD (medical, psychosocial, feeding skill-based systems and associated nutritional aspects), medical and background history gathering; integration with instrumental results; and the need to consider the complex interaction of developmental, physical, cognitive, social, behavioral, family, and cultural aspects in the evaluation are detailed.


School-age children require safe and adequate nutrition and hydration for learning and social participation. The SLP has a lead role in the school team in evaluating swallowing and feeding, and developing a plan for team implementation. A holistic school-based SLP clinical evaluation process is described.

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