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Use of mealtime advice mats in special schools for children with learning disabilities

Morgan, S., Luxon, E., Soomro, A. & Harding, C. (2018). Use of mealtime advice mats in special schools for children with learning disabilities. Learning disability Practice, 21(1), pp. 20-26. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2018.e1856


Eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties can have serious outcomes for children and adults with learning disabilities. Carers must adhere to management guidelines about mealtime support, and multidisciplinary teams must ensure this happens. A one-page point of care tool summarising the guidelines for a specific client, sometimes termed a ‘mealtime advice mat’ (MAM), is one method. The aim of this study was to determine whether MAMs are used in special schools, gain an understanding of their format and use and identify other methods of supporting adherence such as training.

Questionnaires were given to 14 speech and language therapists (SLTs) who work in special schools, and 13 members of staff of one London special school.

The results suggest that SLTs use MAMS as common practice, and that there is agreement on their content and format, but not on the name of the resource. School staff also use this type of tool, but not directly at mealtimes.

Written, simplified guidelines to support children at mealtimes are used in special schools, however, although they contain similar information they vary in title and the way they are used. MAMs are simple and potentially cost-effective point-of-care tools that can reinforce eating and drinking guidelines, and can be used to measure adherence. Ensuring they are understood by and useful to carers requires further investigation.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in 'Learning Disability Practice.' The Version of Record can be found here:
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
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