Eating, drinking, & swallowing difficulties for SLTs: Level 1

Estimated Duration: 
15 hours

This course will provide the knowledge you need to support your team in providing services for children with EDS difficulties. 

Throughout the course, the term 'Education SLTs' will refer to those SLTs employed by the Ministry of Education and 'Health SLTs' will refer to those SLTs employed by the Ministry of Health.

On completion of this course, you will acquire the following knowledge and skills:

  • Basic anatomy and physiology of swallowing and the development of feeding skills across childhood including health conditions that predispose a child to EDS difficulties and other risk factors.
  • Being able to identify gaps in the information that may be needed to support students with EDS difficulties.
  • Basic assessment – when to consider referral for reassessment, instrumental assessment, how to interpret assessment and VFS reports.
  • Understanding of the component parts of the EDS management plan and the rationale for their use, timing and potential outcomes.
  • An appreciation of the relevant information not detailed in the management plan and how this may impact a student's ability to participate in eating and drinking.
  • Environmental considerations - understanding the environment is conducive to successful eating and drinking and should maintain the student’s dignity.
  • Ensuring the student has the appropriate supports in place e.g. equipment, positioning, routine, textures and oral hygiene.
  • Understanding of the role of communication in successful eating and drinking – Following the child’s lead and communication cues/listening to the child enables monitoring of the intervention plan.
  • Intervention – Understanding SLT recommendations for intervention.
  • Supporting family and school to implement recommendation.
  • Clinical decision making in a variety of settings e.g. when to go back to the Health SLT, when to seek multi-disciplinary team (MDT) support.
  • Team-working across Education and Health including joint sessions with SLTs, dietitians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and school staff.
  • Managing a feeding plan through a team e.g. nurses, teacher aides.
  • Managing ethical dilemmas (e.g. videofluoroscopy (VFS) refusal, family refuses access, staff change plan or don’t follow plan, parents and MDT disagree, conflict between clinical safety and quality of life, family refuse a PEG).
  • Feeding back to the Ministry of Health MDT, including identification of roles and scope of practice.


You are taking on additional training in the area of eating, drinking and swallowing. This is to empower and enable you to provide support and resources to your colleagues in this area of practice. This content has been devised to enable you to ensure all Education SLTs are able to provide the following services as laid out in the joint Operational Protocol:

  • Monitor and support the implementation of the Eating, Drinking and Swallowing Plan in an educational context
  • Provide advice and guidance to educational facilities to ensure implementation of Eating, Drinking and Swallowing Plans
  • Liaise with and refer to Child Development Services or Child Health Services (as relevant) where a referral or review is required
  • Support Health SLTs to develop an Eating, Drinking and Swallowing Plan.


How to succeed in this course

It is expected that you will spend an average of 15 hours on learning activities in this course.

Some modules are longer and for others, the workload is somewhat less. It is essential that you keep up with the prescribed readings and make the opportunities to discuss topics with your colleagues or supervisor.

We encourage you to attempt all activities and questions as they appear throughout the content. This will assist in reinforcing the learning objectives for that module and also help you to self-assess how you are going in each module. It will also give you an accurate point of reference when seeking help from your supervisor.

To succeed in this course, you will need to read and engage with the learning materials in each module and be prepared to ask questions and participate in discussions. This approach is designed to encourage active rather than passive learning.

For effective learning of complex material, students who engage and take responsibility for their own development of knowledge and acquisition of skill tend to outperform those who remain passive or inactive.



Following the course, you will find a short quiz designed to help consolidate your learning. When you complete the quiz please hit the 'submit' button to receive your certificate. This course provides 15 hours of CPD.


This content has been developed by Bianca Jackson and Speech Science at The University of Auckland. Speech Science is located within the School of Psychology, in the Faculty of Science.


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