The Feeding Solutions Part 2: Treatment Overview
As promised, the current post will focus on a broad overview of treatment ideas and techniques for feeding disorders. Since the last feeding post, several therapists have requested treatment suggestions and ideas. My hope is that this post will at least begin to outline some therapeutic solutions for this often complex issue.
Below, I have separated feeding therapy into four main areas complete with a few suggested treatment techniques. The following overview is a broad look at feeding therapy and can serve as a guideline, but is not a comprehensive treatment plan.
1. FAMILY DYNAMICS: This component focuses on training the family to have healthy and positive mealtime interactions and routines.
- Eat as a Family - demonstrate HOW to eat. Other family members serve as a natural model for children with feeding issues.
- Create a Routine for Mealtime : Set rules that all family members follow
- Pick One Meal a Day to Address Feeding - feeding therapy can be very overwhelming. Sometimes it is helpful to only address concerns during one meal a day so that other mealtimes are less structured.
2. ORAL MOTOR: This component addresses the numerous hands-on techniques and tools that help increase awareness, strength and mobility for the child's oral musculature.
- Oral Motor Tools: nuk, dry spoon, chew tube, chewy cord, etc. - Present tools both dry and wet, with food/liquid on them.
- Massage cheeks, lips and chin - use lotion and vibration
- Tongue and Lip Exercises
- Biting and Chewing Exercises
- Blow Bubbles and Whistles to address motor-planning and breath support
3. SENSORY: This component focuses on texture sensitivities and food aversions.
- Use Food During Play - although this is not always appropriate this can be both fun and functional when sensory issues exist. (I.e. finger paint with pudding, etc.)
- Put Food on External Oral Area - cheeks, chin and lips to help stimulate appetite and interest, as well as desensitize children.
4. BEHAVIOR: This component focuses on issues surrounding avoidance techniques that many children engage in to circumvent mealtime.
- Use Simple Rewards - 30 second video, short book, a song, etc.
- Use Preferred Foods - use to encourage tasting un-preferred foods
- Count Bites - often very motivating and gives the child a goal.
- Give the Child SOME Control - both you and the child get a spoon to help the child feel engaged.
I am aware that numerous ideas, techniques and strategies exist when addressing feeding. As this blog develops, we will further explore each of the four areas and discuss problems and solutions more in depth. I hope that readers find this introductory guideline useful.
Please share your feeding questions, concerns and solutions! I welcome your feedback and look forward to reading your comments and ideas.