Children can experience challenges with feeding and eating for a variety of reasons related to sensory processing, medical diagnoses, and/or oral motor deficits. When a child is experiencing difficulties with feeding and eating, there is often anxiety, frustration, and worry surrounding meals. Instead of meal times facilitating positive family interactions, good eating habits, and supports nutrition for growth and development, communication, and social skills; mealtimes become a dreaded, stressful part of the day.
Mealtimes do NOT have to be a battle. Despite parents’ best efforts, these children often need skilled therapeutic interventions. We want to help. Aspire Pediatric Therapy’s feeding program help children overcome barriers and challenges and develop skills necessary to be lifelong successful eaters
What makes Aspire Pediatric Therapy’s feeding program successful?
At Aspire Pediatric Therapy, we understand that feeding problems are not caused by one factor in isolation. More commonly, multiple issues are present that hinder your child from being an independent eater. At Aspire, we want to help you understand “why” your child is having difficulties with feeding and eating.
- Sensory-Motor Skill Development
- Oral-Motor Skill Development
- Coordination & Strengthening
- Postural Control
- Cognitive & Social Skill Development
By addressing all of these areas, our therapists help your child achieve the best possible outcomes for long term success.
What can I expect from Aspire Pediatric Therapy’s Feeding Program?
- An in-depth comprehensive, interdisciplinary feeding & eating evaluation will be completed by an experienced occupational and speech-language pathologist, including observation of eating and an extensive feeding and medical history. If the safety of your child’s swallow is of concern, your child may be referred for a swallow study if a study has not previously been completed.
- With parent goals in mind, an individualized treatment plan will be developed to address your child’s specific needs. Families are an integral part of the therapy team.
- Skilled therapy interventions will be provided using a variety of foods at each therapy session to help your child overcome barriers to independence. The focus is on your child’s skill development and self-confidence for long term functional feeding & eating success.
- Ongoing child & family education and coaching to enhance carryover and transition of skills to meal times at home and in the community.
What is the difference between a picky eater and a problem eater?
Children who have difficulties with feeding are not uncommon. Some children may be described as picky eaters. These children are not typically appropriate for skilled therapy intervention. Picky eaters commonly will:
- Have a limited diet of < 30 foods
- Eat at least one or more foods from all foods groups and textures categories
- Accept new foods on their plate, touch new foods, and try new foods
- Eat a favorite food almost exclusively and then refuse for a period of several weeks. Eventually, the child will put the food back in their menu rotation.
Children who have more significant difficulties and challenges than a picky eater typically require therapeutic intervention. Children with feeding problems often have poor weight gain and growth and inadequate or nutritionally deficient caloric intake. Children who are identified as problem eaters are at risk for compromised emotional, physical, social, and academic development.
How do I know if my child may benefit from feeding therapy?
If your child experiences one or more of the following, he or she may benefit from Aspire Pediatric Therapy’s Feeding Program.
- Aversion, avoidance, and/or refusal of food textures or entire food groups
- Coughing, gagging, and/or vomiting during or around eating or drinking
- Self-limiting (<20 foods) or restrictive diets
- Dropping foods from diet that your child previously ate and not bringing it back
- Difficulty biting, chewing, or managing food in his/her mouth
- Difficulty drinking from cup
- Difficulty transitioning between developmental stages of eating
- Ongoing weight loss or poor weight gain with growth
- History of eating and breathing coordination problems
- Delayed exposure to foods and textures
- Difficulty using utensils and manipulating food/packaging in hands
- Eats fewer foods over time and may end up with less than 8-10 foods
- Avoids sitting at table, participating in meals, eats separately or leaves room
- Difficult for everyone to feed or cries, yells, avoids, or tantrums around meals
- Rigidity and inflexibility related to meal routine or foods specifically
- Medical diagnoses; gastric reflux, motility disorders, failure to thrive, etc
- Gastronomy (G-tube) or naso-gastric tube (NG tube) dependence
- Anatomical or structural issues with jaw, palate, etc.
If you have concerns regarding your child’s feeding and eating, contact our