Pam Modugno, OT, has been treating children with food aversion for many years. She says there are several ways that children exhibit food aversions. Some children will only eat a very limited variety of foods; others cannot tolerate the look, smell, texture or taste of certain foods and still others avoid whole food groups.
Inadequate muscle tone, sensory processing difficulties, poor swallowing skills or oral-motor skill deficits may be underlying conditions for food aversions. With proper positioning, sensory input and a familiar routine, these children can learn to master the skills needed for eating.
Bacharach’s Feeding Skills Program
“Right now, there is no in-person feeding skills program,” says Pam, “but we can and do still offer the services virtually so that you and your child can remain safely at home and still get the help you need.”
Bacharach’s pediatric feeding skills program uses the Sequential, Oral and Sensory (SOS) approach to feeding. This encourages the child to become more comfortable with food through systematic desensitization. By attending remote weekly “food school”, the child learns to have a positive experience with meals and mealtime routines and learns to tolerate and successfully eat new foods.
How Do You Enroll Your Child in the Feeding Skills Program?
“The parent needs a prescription from a pediatrician for a feeding evaluation. During the evaluation, I have the parent offer the child a few of the child’s preferred foods and a few non-preferred foods and a drink. I evaluate how the child is positioned while eating. Some children have low muscle tone, poor core strength, or may slouch in the chair. We start at the concept of 90 degrees at the hip and 90 degrees at the knees, with feet planted firmly on the ground and child’s body up to the table. Sometimes I may adapt the highchair, adding towels on the side to position, and duct tape a more secure footrest to the chair. This gets the child in a better position so they will have a secure posture making it easier to use oral motor skills and hand skills necessary to eat.”
What Is The Parent’s Role in Remote Therapy?
After the evaluation, I discuss the goals with the parents. Each week we discuss a menu to have for our next remote session. During the session I work with the parent and child to improve the skills for eating. During the session I have the parent do sensory activities (such as: jumping, animal walks, bouncing on a therapy ball, etc.) prior to sitting at the table to prepare the child for eating. When the child is seated at the table, they will do more preparatory activities such as blowing bubbles and washing hands with warm water.
Parents May Find These Feeding Tips From Pam Helpful
• Keep trying to get your child to learn about food – even touching it she is learning.
• Don’t force your child to eat certain foods – let her go at her own pace.
• Your child has to try something at least 10 times in order to decide if she likes it.
• Try to change up her food and give her variety.
• Change the brand and the shape of foods. These subtle changes – like adding a little salt or pepper, changing the shape of sandwich or the color of cheese – will help avoid a food jag – where your child wants to eliminate a certain food from her diet.
If you think your child may have food aversions, ask your pediatrician for a prescription to evaluate the child for participation in our feeding skills program.