Feeding Therapy

Committed to Supporting the Whole Family
Using a Pro-neurodiversity Approach

Feeding Therapy helps children learn how to eat better.  Usually an OT or an SLP provide treatment with support from nutritionists and medical doctors as needed.  It is important to know that feeding is a specialty and not all pediatric OTs (or SLPs) have advanced training in this area.  

At Kuhl Therapies the feeding philosophy is child-directed and continues to give the child autonomy over their eating.  Parents are an essential part of the treatment process and there is a focus on addressing the underlying cause of the problem in a positive way.  

This positive and accepting approach may take longer to see results, but there is research to support that the effects are longer lasting.

Who is Feeding Therapy for?

Feeding therapy is very helpful and recommended if your child is having trouble eating.  This is most common with children with medical or physical challenges. Some common red flags for difficulties with oral motor skills and chewing include:

 

  • Doesn’t mouth toys

  • Only likes the bottle or nursing at 8 months or later

  • Not feeding themselves

  • Still eating baby food at 12 months or later

  • Gagging on food when it is in their mouth

  • Spitting out food 

  • Coughing with foods 

  • Unable to take bites off a larger food item 

  • Refuses baby food

  • Refuses table foods

  • Eating no table foods by 9 months

If any of these behaviors are present it is recommended that you consult with a feeding specialist and seek a feeding evaluation.  

Picky Eaters

Picky eaters who have a very limited diet and stress around trying new foods may benefit from therapy. However, not all picky eaters need therapy.  If the information below applies to your child, services may be appropriate. 

  • Gags at the sight, sound, smell, or taste of some foods

  • “Just take a bite” doesn’t work 

  • Meltdowns when encouraged to interact with a new food

  • Your child would rather go hungry than try a food 

  • Insists food be prepared a certain way (brand, shape, color, etc.)

  • Fewer than 20 foods in diet

  • Will only eat when distracted by a tablet, singing, TV, etc.

  • Will only eat when physically fed by someone else

  • Unable to eat foods in social settings 

If your child has two or more of these symptoms it is recommended to seek a sensory feeding evaluation.  
At a feeding evaluation, the therapist will observe your child eating and will interview the caregiver.  It is not invasive and should be a positive experience for all involved.

The therapist will then create feeding goals based on the skill of the child as well as the parental concerns.  

What happens in a Feeding Therapy session?

Sessions are generally 60 minutes long.  The time is spent teaching your child how to eat (chew or manage food in their mouth) or how to eat new foods.  Your child may also participate in sensory processing activities or exercises to strengthen the muscles needed to eat. These exercises may include using whistles, blowing bubbles, or using a mirror to make silly faces. 

At Kuhl Therapies, we utilize three feeding techniques and integrate them into each session as needed for each child.  

They include: 
 

SOS
SOS stands for Sequential Oral Sensory.  This approach was developed by Kay Toomey and is a family centered and child centered model.  This program looks at the difference between picky eaters and problem feeders.  This program works with a food progression, working with different textures and considers the whole child (physical, developmental, environmental, sensory and emotional factors) in the individual plan for the child.  Although some of the techniques used in the SOS approach have behavioral components; the feeding therapists at Kuhl Therapists ensure that the exposure is based on the child's sensory system and their autonomy.  All therapy is trauma informed.

AEIOU
The AEIOU is a treatment method for children with challenging feeding disorders using a multi-faceted approach (sensory, oral motor, medical, and environmental).  It is a step by step approach to helping children learn to explore and enjoy food through:

A:   Acceptance
E:   Exposure
I:    Independence
O:  Observation
U:  Understanding