Did you know that research shows that about 20% of all children will struggle with some type of feeding challenge at one point or another from birth to 5-7 years of age?
What Is Feeding Therapy And What Does It Entail?
Feeding therapy is a 1:1 therapeutic service provided by our team of occupational therapists and speech language pathologists to improve the feeding skills and abilities of children.
We focus on providing therapy to school age children who experience significant feeding aversions. A feeding aversion is considered a psychological or emotional response to escape from food scenarios or situations. Feeding aversions are often considered sensory in nature. Children with sensory aversions may “crumble” at the sight of new foods on their plate, gag at the smell of foods, and refuse to touch new foods. Such aversions may be demonstrated by a display of tantrums, food refusals, and removal of foods from their plate causing mealtimes to be unpleasant for families and their children.
What Does Feeding Therapy Look Like?
As stated earlier, feeding therapy is a 1:1 service in which a therapist works with families and their child weekly to address their individual needs and concerns. The frequency of therapy ranges from two to three times per week for 30 to 60 minute durations.
Therapy incorporates a variety of techniques all of which are modified to fit your child’s individual needs. Desensitization techniques are utilized to help the child reduce food aversions by meeting the child where they are. We understand that every child is different, therefore, it is important to modify approaches to help each child with their own set of needs and challenges. Desensitization techniques gradually work towards reducing a child’s aversion to sensory properties such as the appearance, touch, smell, and taste of foods. For instance, if a child is afraid to touch unfamiliar foods, our team of therapists work to reduce the child’s aversion to touch using a variety of sensory based techniques. In addition to desensitization methods, we work on increasing a child’s exposure to new foods by creating customized plans to help increase your child’s diet.
Therapy is considered a team effort. It is crucial that family members be involved in the therapy process to encourage carryover of skills into the home setting. In treatment,
families will be provided with advice and insight as to help reduce stress during mealtimes.
The goal of feeding therapy is to help strengthen the child’s ability to participate in safe, happy, and healthy mealtimes!
What Are The Benefits Of Feeding Therapy?
- Reduction to the sight, smell, touch, and taste of different foods
- Increase in exposures to different or less familiar foods
- Expansion in quantity and diversity of foods the child accepts
- Guidance on how to create and follow a routine feeding schedule
- Advice on how to navigate challenging feeding behaviors at mealtime
- Suggestions on how to plate and serve foods at home to encourage mealtime success
How Do I Know If My Child Would Benefit From Feeding And Swallowing Therapy?
If your child presents with any of the following behaviors during mealtime, they may be a candidate for feeding treatment:
- Coughing, gagging, or vomiting before, during, and/or after eating
- Sensitivity to certain food textures, smells, flavors
- Refusal to eat specific food groups
- Food inventory of less than 20 foods