How We Treat Feeding Disorders
Evaluation, treatment, and follow-up are the three major phases in the treatment we offer.
The initial evaluation is the first step in determining which of our feeding therapy programs would be the most suitable for your child. Your child is evaluated during a meal to identify problematic mealtime behaviors and potential feeding goals. This can be done in person or by video. Our preference is always to do this in person, but we understand that this can somethimes be difficult.
The evaluation also serves as an interview for documenting your child’s medical and feeding history. After the initial evaluation, your child will be assigned to either the Non-Intensive Feeding Therapy Program or the Intensive Feeding Therapy Program.
1. Non-Intensive Feeding Therapy Program
n the Non-Intensive Feeding Therapy Program, we typically see a child for all meals for 3–14 days. Some take less; some take a little longer. It all depends on the case. Typically, children who do not have a feeding tube are considered appropriate for the Non-Intensive Feeding Therapy Program. Children who are failure to thrive, who are scheduled for a tube placement, or who already have a feeding tube would be more appropriate for the Intensive Program.
2. Intensive Feeding Therapy Program
This program runs for all 7 days each week, with 3–4 meals per day. In rare instances, a fifth meal is added. The program length is 4–6 weeks. The Intensive Feeding Therapy Program is completely customized to ensure that all feeding goals are met. We do whatever is needed to correct your child’s feeding issues because time is of the essence when dealing with a child’s health.
We work with your child’s particular feeding problems while continually modifying your child’s protocol during each point in time. We do this until we reach our feeding goals (e.g. elimination of tube dependence, decrease in vomiting, eating a variety of foods, increased texture, decreased food refusal during meals, and/or self-feeding). We work one-on-one until your child reaches a period of stability or until the meal meets/exceeds our set goals.
Once stability is achieved in your child’s eating, we then fade parents and caregivers into the meal for training. Training consists of learning your child’s protocol, doing a mock session, and feeding your child with the feeding specialist present.
As parents or caregivers become more efficient and confident during feedings, the feeding therapist is faded out of the meal. Feedback regarding implementation of the feeding protocol is then given during the meal, while the feeding therapist observes from outside the room. Once meals are stable when parents are feeding, meals are then generalized to other settings to increase the likelihood of a smooth transition.
This is the most important part of both the non-intensive treatment and intensive programs. It is not enough for your child to be eating with the therapist. Your child, regardless of the feeding issue, should eat in the same manner or better with primary caregivers. That is why we emphasize follow-up through phone calls, webcam, and other video footage.
When the feeding therapy program is completed, we strongly encourage parents to call or email with any problems, concerns, or questions regarding feeding protocols, feeding problems at home, or advancing to other feeding stages such as self-feeding or texture. Contacting us as soon as a problem occurs makes all the difference in maintaining the progress after the completion of therapy. We are here to not only support parents during their admission, but also subsequent to the feeding treatment.