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Feeding Therapy

Feeding therapy is a specialized intervention designed to address difficulties and challenges related to eating, drinking, and swallowing in children and adults. It encompasses assessment, intervention, and support to address feeding difficulties and promote positive mealtime experiences. It is typically provided by speech-language pathologists or occupational therapists with expertise in feeding and swallowing disorders.

 

Feeding therapy can be used to help with the following:

 

  •  Oral Motor Skills: Feeding therapy targets oral motor skills like chewing, sucking, and swallowing. Strong oral motor skills are crucial for safe eating, preventing choking, and maintaining adequate nutrition. They also support speech and communication development.

  • Sensory Processing: Feeding therapy addresses sensory issues related to food textures, tastes, temperatures, and smells. Improving sensory processing helps individuals tolerate a variety of foods, reducing mealtime stress and expanding their diet for better nutrition.

  • Behavioral Challenges: Feeding therapy addresses behavioral challenges during meals, such as food refusal, aversion, or picky eating behaviors. Managing these behaviors creates a positive mealtime environment, reduces anxiety, and promotes healthy eating habits.

  • Swallowing Disorders: Feeding therapy targets swallowing disorders (dysphagia) to improve swallow function. This reduces the risk of aspiration (food or liquid entering the airway), choking, and aspiration pneumonia, ensuring safe and efficient swallowing.

  • Nutritional Needs: Feeding therapy ensures individuals receive adequate nutrition through appropriate food choices and feeding strategies. Meeting nutritional needs supports overall health, growth, and development, addressing deficiencies and promoting well-being.

  • Mealtime Independence: Feeding therapy promotes mealtime independence by teaching self-feeding skills, utensil use, and independence in food selection and preparation. This enhances self-esteem, autonomy, and social participation during meals.

  • Transition to Oral Feeding: For individuals reliant on alternative feeding methods (e.g., tube feeding), feeding therapy facilitates a transition to oral feeding when appropriate. This improves quality of life, social engagement, and enjoyment of food and meals.

Each aspect of feeding therapy is crucial in addressing specific challenges and promoting overall well-being, safety, and independence during mealtime and daily activities.

 

Who should my child see for Feeding Therapy?

 

When seeking support for your child's feeding difficulties, understanding the roles of feeding specialists, occupational therapists (OTs), and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) is essential. Each profession brings unique expertise and approaches to feeding therapy, tailored to address different aspects of feeding challenges and promote optimal outcomes for children.

Feeding Specialists


Feeding Specialists are highly trained professionals with a primary focus on feeding and swallowing difficulties. They are Speech Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, or Nutritionists who have pursued specialized education and certifications, such as the SOS Approach to Feeding Therapy or TalkTools Oral Placement Therapy, to address complex feeding issues. Feeding specialists use evidence-based techniques to assess and treat feeding problems, including difficulties with chewing, swallowing, and food aversions. Their expertise lies in developing personalized strategies to improve oral motor skills, expand food acceptance, and ensure safe and efficient swallowing. 

Occupational Therapists


Occupational therapists play a crucial role in addressing feeding difficulties, particularly those related to sensory processing and self-feeding skills. OTs have specialized training in sensory integration for the entire body, making them adept at addressing global sensory challenges that may impact feeding. They work on improving oral motor strength, coordination, and self-feeding abilities, such as using utensils and mealtime routines. OTs also collaborate with families to create sensory-friendly environments and strategies to promote successful feeding experiences at home and in various settings.

Speech Language Pathologists


SLPs are trained in assessing and treating swallowing difficulties (dysphagia). SLPs focus on evaluating the structures and functions of the mouth and throat related to chewing and swallowing. They address oral motor skills, chewing and swallowing coordination, as well as sensory processing issues specific to feeding. SLPs work collaboratively with feeding specialists and OTs to provide comprehensive care for children with complex feeding challenges, ensuring a holistic approach to improving feeding skills and overall well-being.

If you are still unsure which professional would be best suited to treat your child, call us! We can answer your questions and point you in the right direction.

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