Feeding Therapy begins with an assessment, you can choose to do this in your home (travel fee involved) or in the clinic.
My clinic has a mini kitchen (with an oven, microwave, stove top etc) and a number of seating/highchair options so coming to the clinic is easy and frequently chosen option.
Most assessments are 90mins long with some assessments spread over 2 hours (2 appointments). All assessments include a summary report. My secretary can guide you through what is best for your child.
Assessments are important in working out why your child is having feeding difficulties. The assessment includes an oral muscle assessment (including tongue tie assessments), feeding observation and time to discuss with you what the main issues are at home.
You can make the clinic assessment more worthwhile by taking a video of your child eating at home as well as bringing along any medical (eg past doctor reports) and nutritional information (eg blue book, dietitian reports) as well as any other allied health reports (eg occupational therapy assessments) to your child’s appointment.
Don’t forget to bring a range of food that your child eats well and doesn’t eat well so I can get the best picture of your child’s chewing and swallowing muscles.
At the end of the feeding assessment, I will write a feeding plan for your child and suggest a review appointment (if needed).
So what next? Feeding therapy – one of my biggest ethos with feeding are
- One program does not fix all kids: I am trained in 8 feeding programs with a multitude of feeding lectures by a range of international feeding experts over 15 years of clinical experience. This includes more popular treatment programs such as the Sequential Oral sensory (SOS) program and Ellyn Satter Division of Responsibility but also lesser known but just as good programs and feeding approaches by Susanne Evans Morris, Marsha Dunn Klein, Kristie Gatto, Gillian Griffiths (Sensational Mealtimes), Katja Rowell (STEPS approach), Melanie Potock and many more amazing leaders in the field. I am adamant that feeding programs for children must be individualised not only for the child but for the family dynamics.
- Parent involvement: empowering parents is crucial to the success of therapy so that parents can be the drivers in making changes at home. Parent attendance is important with all therapy sessions and sometimes sessions may be just with the parents (rather than 1:1 with children). My aim is to be the support person behind the family so that the parents and kids can get back onto the path of enjoying mealtimes together.
- Working together as a team: Eating does not occur in isolation, it involves an understanding of how the medical, growth, motor skills and communication skills all work together in a unit for a child. I believes that it’s important to communicate with both parents, teachers and other professionals involved so we can all be consist in helping your child to eat in all environments. Permission to contact your team will be asked in the first appointment.
Therapy frequency: For babies and toddlers, therapy frequency may be anywhere between 1-4 sessions. For pre-schoolers, this may be up to 8 sessions. Children with tube feeding may have short blocks of intensive therapy interspersed between monthly reviews. And children with fussy eating difficulties may have up to 2 blocks of 10 fortnightly sessions in a 12 month period.
Therapy frequency definitely depends on the child and the family but I won’t see children weekly for therapy for 12 months, I insists that parents need to be empowered so that they can continue to work between sessions and without therapy with their kids at home. Feeding should not be a chore/therapy homework nor should it be medicalised. It should be a time where the family comes together to chat, connect and enjoy a meal. I hope to do the same for you and your child.