Eating and Drinking Ability Classification System for Individuals with Cerebral Palsy (EDACS)

People with cerebral palsy cannot use the range of physical movement available to most of us. Difficulties may occur in the development of walking, speech and hand function. The movements involved in biting, chewing and swallowing are frequently affected. Children and young people with cerebral palsy may have problems eating enough food to grow and to stay healthy because it is challenging to move their mouths to eat and drink efficiently. Some of them will have problems with frequent chest infections because particles of food or drink enter their lungs when they swallow. These difficulties continue throughout their lives.

We have developed a new Eating and Drinking Ability Classification System (EDACS) for people with cerebral palsy. EDACS describes five distinct levels of ability using the key features of safety and efficiency:

Level I

- Eats and drinks safely and efficiently

Level II

- Eats and drinks safely but with some limitations to efficiency.

Level III

- Eats and drinks with some limitations to safety; maybe limitations to efficiency.

Level IV

- Eats and drinks with significant limitations to safety.

Level V

- Unable to eat or drink safely – tube feeding may be considered to provide nutrition.

Our new Eating and Drinking Ability Classification System (EDACS) offers an alternative to subjective terms such as mild and moderate and severe which have no agreed definition.

We developed EDACS by consulting with people with cerebral palsy, parents and experts around the world. EDACS has been tested to see how easy and reliable it is when used by speech and language therapists and parents.

EDACS is the product of an independent research project funded for three years by the National Institute of Health Research, under its Research for Patient Benefit Programme (Grant Reference Number PB-PG-1208-18144). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.


We are collaborating with teams around the world to translate EDACS into different languages. On completion, the different language versions will be available to download.

Other Information


If you are interested in finding out more about EDACS please email Diane Sellers.