What is aspiration?

Aspiration refers to food or liquid entering the lungs during swallowing. As we chew and swallow foods, Aspirationour muscles work together as an intricate system, ensuring that food travels safely from our mouth through our esophagus, while completely bypassing our airway. During each swallow, our airway closes off to prevent foods or liquid from entering. When the system does not properly function, food or liquid may enter into the airway (penetration), or even fall below the vocal folds and into the lungs (aspiration).

What causes aspiration?

Aspiration is a common result of feeding and swallowing disorders, and occurs when the swallowing mechanism malfunctions, failing to protect the airway from food or liquid entering. Such malfunctions can be caused by a variety of conditions, including swallowing dysfunction, neurological disorders, structural abnormalities, and gastroesophageal reflux (GER).

How do I know if my child is aspirating?

The following signs may indicate that your child is aspirating:

  • Coughing or gagging during feeding
  • Hoarse, breathy or gurgley vocal quality around or after meals
  • Reoccurring pneumonia or respiratory infections
  • Difficulty gaining weight
  • Refusal to eat food or liquids
  • Poor coordination of breathing during feeding
  • Lengthy feeding times

How can I help treat my child’s condition?

Treatment for feeding and swallowing disorders are often addressed by a speech-language pathologist or an occupational therapist. If you have any concerns about your child’s feeding skills, it is best to seek professional assistance immediately. Treatment methods may vary, depending on the underlying etiology. Treatment may include dietary changes, medical intervention (e.g. medicine for reflux), and direct feeding therapy. Feeding therapy will often address the strength and coordination of muscle movements needed for safe and efficient feeding. Feeding therapy might also address seating and positioning to optimize feeding skills, modifying food textures and liquid thickness to allow for safe swallowing, and increase the tolerance of various foods and textures.

Our Approach at North Shore Pediatric Therapy

At North Shore Pediatric Therapy, our therapists address childhood feeding and swallowing disorders using a multidisciplinary approach to provide each child with skills needed to develop safe and successful feeding skills.


Client Reviews

NSPT provided me with an exceptional learning opportunity to further my clinical skills as a SLP student. I left NSPT with more knowledge in my field and more confidence in myself as a clinician. The positive environment, interdisciplinary team work, and everlasting support at NSPT made my externship placement truly wonderful!


NSPT provided me the opportunity to not only gain more clinicial skills in my area of study, but also alllowed me to better understand and experience what other clinicial professions do. I appreciated the feedback and experiences here at NSPT and am so happy I had the opportunity to work alongside other therapists!


My daughter saw Zoe in Glenview for feeding therapy starting when she was 6 months old. We were very concerned because she was losing weight and refusing to eat solids. From the first session, Zoe was able to work with our baby to not only get her to try foods, but to take an active interest in them. Zoe also provided tremendous comfort to us by sharing her breadth of professional and personal knowledge on infant feeding. Our baby is nearly 1 year old now and she is a happy, healthy eater (though still a little picky). We are so grateful to Zoe for starting us on this path.

Matt Galin

My son has been receiving speech therarpy here for the past 3 years. If it wasn’t for the intellect of the therapist he was working with we would have never discovered that he has APD. Through hard work over the course of the years, my son has blossomed into a talking machine. I highly recommend NSPT for all your kids needs.

Carla Robinson

Our son Ian received speech therapy from Ms. Katie 2x per week for 6 months. We were so thrilled to see his confidence increasing as his verbal skills improved. While we have moved out-of-state & no longer go to NSPT, I am hopeful that we will find a therapy center that is as wonderful & caring as they were!

Stephanie Long

NSTP has managed to turn a difficult and sometimes frustrating situation into a fun and educational experience for my 6 year old daughter. Their confidence, willingness to explain every detail of what they do and what they have planned for my daughters sessions has been a life saver to me. The enthusiasm and confidence I encounter with her therapists is not only a needed relief to me as a parent but is also picked up by my daughter and can been seen in her interactions with the therapists and other children as we walk into the office.


North Shore Pediatric Therapy provides a supportive and fun educational atmosphere for both clinical interns and clients. I learned a lot from both my supervisor as well as the rest of the team, made of clinicians from the fields of speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and social work. I received constructive feedback, had access to a variety of helpful treatment and diagnostic materials, and experienced providing services to a variety of clients and their families. Overall, I learned a lot during my time at NSPT and will be very sad not to spend more time there.

Stephanie Long

My 3-year-old receives speech therapy at NSPT. I’ve been so happy with the progress she’s making in this area. She has been learning new words and phrases and is incorporating them at home, which has been great! I’m impressed with the concern and level of care of the therapists at NSPT.

Pamela S

My son is making wonderful progress with voice volume and enunciation! We love Jaclyn! Thank you for your loving support!

Lisa D

I have three children who have been coming to NSPT since October 2012 in the Glenview office. The therapists are amazing with my children. They are very caring and kind and they love working with children. My son reached all of his goals after one year of being with his therapist. My other two kids are showing a lot of progress and improvement in their speech. I am very happy with the services my kids are receiving.

Weam S

My son (now 4 1/2) has been coming to Speech Therapy at North Shore Pediatric Therapy in Highland Park for 9 months. When he started, he was fairly unintelligible, and we were very concerned. Thanks to the amazing SLPs at NSPT, my son has greatly improved and is so much more intelligible. While we still have a ways to go I believe we are on the right track. I no longer have to translate everything he says to everyone. We are thrilled with the speech services our son has received.

Leah B

my son has been going for speech and ot for almost a year and Ellyn and Katie have been so great working with my son. since starting at north shore pediatric therapy he has really shown huge improvement and has made everyday life easier for my son. they have been great .


My son (now 4) has been coming to Speech Therapy at North Shore Pediatric Therapy in Glenview for over a year. When he started, he could barely form words was somewhat unintelligible, and we were obviously very concerned. Everyone used to tell me that one day he would be talking so much I would just want him to stop, but I had a hard time believing them. Thanks to the amazing SLPs at NSPT, it’s true! My son now speaks in full sentences, is fully intelligible, has gained an enormous amount of self-confidence, and I do sometimes think “when is this kid going to be quiet?”. Haha – Needless to say we are thrilled with the speech services our son has received.

Jennifer N

North Shore Pediatric Therapy provides a positive and fun learning environment for their clients. I enjoyed working alongside the therapists in a multi-disciplinary setting and I learned a lot from the experience!

Tanya Noronha

Since my family put my autistic sister into speech therapy in North Shore Pediatric Therapy she had improved in her speech and developed new words, and found confidence in trying to speak more and Maureen is very happy, because everybody is very friendly and pays attention to her needs.


My 22 month old son has been coming to Speech Therapy here at North Shore Pediatric Therapy in Bucktown since last fall (2013). He has been seeing Jessica Jamicich. Jessica is a warm, kind and extremely caring Speech Therapist who is wonderful with children with developmental delays. Currently, he is working on action words and two word phrases. My husband and I are extremely please with his speech development. Jessica has been instrumental in helping his speech development along.

Melinda V