What is Feeding Therapy?
Feeding therapy can come in many forms. It can be offered by a speech language pathologist, nutritionist or occupational therapist who has explicit training in the identification and treatment of feeding disorders (in clinical terms: oropharyngeal dysphagia). As a feeding therapist, I work with families and their children to identify whether the feeding difficulty stems from a motor coordination issue, a sensory response to food, or an underlying medical issue. Together, we come up with a plan that will work for your family, scheduling time to meet with your child, as well as the rest of the family, to ensure that eating becomes a safe, fun part of your family’s time together.
When Is Feeding Therapy Appropriate?
Feeding therapy requires the collaboration of family, child, and clinician. The program works best when there is carryover into the home. If you notice that your child avoids certain foods and has a repertoire of 5 foods or less that he/she feels safe eating, it is recommended that you contact a feeding therapist.
How do I know if my child has a sensory aversion to food?
Our sensory system is a built in system that determines how much or how little of a stimuli we need. For example, a child could like dimmer lighting and do horribly in loud places, because they are hypersensitive to light and sound. The same can be true for our food. Certain foods are perceived as being “too crunchy” or “too chewy”, which causes children to avoid trying new foods. Your child may have a sensory aversion to food if you notice they only eat one texture of food (i.e. only crunchy) or one color of food (i.e. all beige/brown food).
How do I know if my child is having difficulty with the motor coordination needed to safely feed and swallow?
For some children, the act of chewing is difficult. This can manifest itself in many ways, including pocketing of food, gagging, or choking. At times, children who have an extended frenum, who have not undergone a frenectomy, have difficulty with tolerating more complex textures of food because there is not enough tongue movement.