Family meals, holiday celebrations, summer picnics, and restaurant dining all have one thing in common: FOOD AND EATING! For most of us, these sound like fun and enjoyable events. But for families and children who live with a feeding disorder, it can seem more like a nightmare.
What exactly is a feeding disorder? A feeding disorder during infancy or early childhood is the failure of an infant or child below six years of age to eat enough food to gain weight and grow normally over a period of one month or more. Approximately 25% of otherwise normally developing infants and up to 80% of those with developmental handicaps have been reported to have feeding problems. In addition, 1% to 2% of infants have been found to have serious feeding difficulties associated with poor weight gain (Chatoor, 2009).
The goal of a therapeutic feeding program is to assist the child in developing a set of techniques that support safe feeding. There are many foundation skills needed for successful feeding. At Hearing & Speech, both the child’s sensory and oral motor skills will be assessed to determine the best course of treatment, specific to the child. The cornerstone of this program utilizes a sensory motor approach to assist children to be independent eaters. In addition, there is a strong family component that stresses the importance of mealtime structure and routines as well as decreasing stress around mealtimes.