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South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
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Barnsley Children’s Speech and Language Therapy

Helping you to understand some of the clinical words that we might use.

Sometimes it is important to use clinical or medical words, especially in some reports, so that other professionals  fully understand  your child’s difficulties and how to help them.   We try hard not to use too much clinical language when we are talking to children and their families, however sometimes it slips out!

We are all learning new words all the time. If you do hear or read something that you aren’t sure about, ask your therapist and they will be very happy to explain.

Have a look at the list below to see some of the words and phrases that we might use or you might read about.

Aspiration: Food or drink has gone ‘down the wrong way’. It means something has gone into the windpipe and towards the lungs. This can mean that people are at very high risk of chest infection or pneumonia. In severe cases people can die from aspiration.

Assessment: We complete an assessment to find out more about your child’s eating, drinking and swallowing. We can find out about their strengths and difficulties. We may complete assessments in your home or your child’s education setting. We might talk about different assessments we need to refer your child for.

Cervical auscultation : An assessment where the speech and language therapist may use a stethoscope to listen to swallowing. It can help the therapist to decide if there is a problem with the swallow.

Dysphagia: Problems swallowing. People with problems swallowing can be described as having dysphagia. They normally have extra advice to help them be safe when eating and drinking.

Eating and drinking plan: Advice written by the speech and language therapist. The advice helps children develop their eating and drinking skills or keep them safe at mealtimes. It is shared with families and settings such as schools/nurseries and short stay settings. People need to follow the plan or let speech therapy/doctors know if something is wrong

IDDSI: International dysphagia diet standardisation initiative. Guidelines used to describe what textures of food or consistencies of drink people are safe to have. All food and drinks are given a level from 0 – 7. Speech and language therapists use IDDSI levels in eating and drinking plans.

Mic-key Button: A tube going directly to the stomach (or appropriate point) to give nutrition. The button sits close to the skin. It is not a long tube. A speciality doctor (gastroenterologist) decides the best tube for each patient.

NG: A nasogastric tube. A tube inserted in the nose which goes into the stomach. It helps give nutrition such as a milk or liquid. It is used for children who may not be safe to feed or who cannot manage all their nutrition by eating or drinking.

PEG feeding tube/gastrostomy : A tube that goes directly to the stomach to give nutrition. A tube is seen on the outside of the person’s body and is normally a longer tube than a mic-key button. A speciality doctor (gastroenterologist) decides the best tube for each patient.

Red flag signs: signs a person may be having difficulty with eating and drinking. Some of these signs can be coughing or choking, a wet sounding voice, changes of colour or changes to breathing when having food or drink. Chest infections and weight loss can also be red flag signs. If red flag signs are seen for children where eating and drinking problems are known or suspected, speech and language therapy would want a referral to assess the concerns.

Reflux:   When contents of the stomach (food, drink acid) travel back up the food pipe after being swallowed. When lots of irritation occurs it is called ‘gastro-oesophageal reflux disease’. For some children it can affect their eating and drinking. Doctors decide how best to treat reflux.

SLT or SALT: Speech and Language Therapy/Therapist. You might also see SLT referred to in schools, but for them this means senior leadership team

Videofluoroscopy (VFSS): A moving x ray of the swallow. Speech and language therapists can ask doctors to refer people for this assessment to look at swallowing in an x ray. Children in Barnsley usually go to Sheffield Children’s hospital if they need to have a VFSS.


As a service we won’t use abbreviations in a report without explaining what they mean.  However, just in case you come across any  unfamiliar abbreviations, we have collated a list of the most commonly used abbreviations  here

CAF – Common Assessment Framework

CIN – Child in Need

EHA – Early Help Assessment

EHCP – Education, Health and Care plan

EYFS – Early Years Foundation Stage

IDDSI – International dysphagia diet standardisation initiative

HV – Health Visitor

LAC – Looked After Child

NG – nasogastric tube

OT – Occupational Therapy

SEN – Special Educational Needs

VFSS – Videofluoroscopy

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