What Is Feeding Therapy?
Is your child a severely picky eater? Do they gag, tantrum, or refuse to eat during meal times? Do they have difficulty swallowing, choke when eating, or get pneumonia often? Has mealtime become a battle in your home?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child may benefit from feeding therapy with our trained occupational therapist. While there may be many reasons for feeding difficulties including sensory processing deficits associated with diagnoses such as sensory processing disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder, or motor deficits associated with neurological diagnoses such as Cerebral Palsy or Stroke, a feeding therapist can help ease stressful mealtimes.
How does feeding therapy work?
Feeding Therapy, Defined
To answer the question, “how does feeding therapy work?” we should begin with a simple definition.
Feeding therapy, in its simplest form, is when a trained occupational therapist helps teach a child how to eat or eat better. Feeding therapy typically occurs once or twice a week for 1 hour each time. Dependent on your child’s underlying issues, whether they be sensory, motor, or a combination of both, your therapist will devise a sensory-motor approach for working on addressing the underlying barriers to your child’s ability to eat an age-appropriate meal.
A feeding evaluation will comprise of a review of the child’s complete feeding history, a parental report on eating experience, an observation of the child eating a “typical for him” meal, and occasionally, a meal journal detailing the last three days of meals your child has had. Your therapists may also request a copy of your child’s most recent swallow study if he or she has a history of aspiration/dysphasia. Using this information, your therapist will use their clinical judgment to determine the cause of the feeding difficulties which may include sensory issues such as hypersensitivity to texture or rigidity with food preferences, or motor issues that impact the ability to chew or swallow.