Does Feeding Therapy Really Work?

Mealtimes with my picky eater can be so stressful.  Does feeding therapy really work?

The short answer is YES! The longer answer is still yes, but it takes time, patience and a consistent approach. Trying new foods is a process and for many children it is fraught with anxiety, uncomfortable sensations, mixed expectations and feelings of a lack of control. At Pediatric Therapeutics, we combine several methods and techniques to assist our clients with gaining confidence, oralmotor skill and tolerance for new foods. Each child is different and so is their treatment plan.

Depending upon the comprehensive history taken and specific needs discovered, we can begin to formulate an approach where the child feels safe FIRST and then we can begin the process of setting the expectation, specific treatment goals and ways to follow through at home. Parent involvement is critical and paramount to success outside of the treatment room. How a child “works” in therapy and bonds with their therapist is different than what typically happens at home. The first and obviously most important bond around food occurs with parents and their children. It is an emotional experience for parents and when mealtimes become less pleasurable and more stressful, the emotions run even higher. Our children sense the importance of this so consist use of language, consistent expectations and consistent follow through are critical to the success of any feeding therapy session, whether inpatient or outpatient, daily, weekly or just periodically.

As with any intervention, progress isn’t always linear. The trajectory changes. Sometimes we need other professional guidance in addition to feeding therapy. There is no magic bullet but there is plenty of hope, plenty of tools to achieve the goals we set, and plenty of literature that supports the positive outcomes of feeding therapy. Would you guess that six months ago, Nicolina, an adorable 5 year old, was an extremely selective eater? With persistence and hard work, Nicolina is expanding the foods she tolerates, the foods she enjoys and the foods she will attempt. Trying something new can be empowering!!

–Anne Toolajian, MA, CCC-SLP

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