Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of adaptive seating on oral-motor functioning as it relates to eating and drinking in 11 children with multiple handicaps between the ages of 1 and 4 years. An assessment instrument with a behavioral base was used for the seven direct observations of each child’s motor behavior. During the first and last visit the parent or guardian filled out a pre– and post–equipment questionnaire. Evaluations were conducted every 6 weeks beginning 3 months before and ending 6 months after the receipt of the seating devices. An analysis of variance was used to analyze rating scale score data. A nonparametric sign test was used for the analysis of yes/no data. Other data were analyzed for frequencies and central tendencies. Sitting posture and head alignment during eating and drinking improved significantly. A significant increase in the frequency with which liquid and food was retained in the mouth was noted. A significant number of children progressed from bottle to cup drinking and from eating blended to chopped or cut-up food. The present research extends beyond case study and retrospective study reports to support the efficacy of the use of adaptive seating devices by children with multiple handicaps.

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