Empowering Children with Feeding Therapy: How Feeding Therapists Make a Difference

Empowering Children with Feeding Therapy: How Feeding Therapists Make a Difference

Some children can be fussy with what they eat, but the ones with special needs are fussier. According to a medical abstract, children with autism spectrum disorder have higher risks of being malnourished due to their poor eating habits.

If mealtime has become a source of anxiety for your children, it is time to consult a feeding therapist and bridge the gap between their health and nutrition. 

Wondering what feeding therapy is and how it can support your child? Read on to know the significant difference feeding therapists can make in your and your child’s life. 

👉 Also read: What To Do After Autism Diagnosis?

What is Feeding Therapy?

As you can guess from its name, feeding therapy is a specialized method to assist children who face difficulty eating and swallowing food for several physical or psychological reasons.

The therapy also helps the children learn how to eat better, making eating food easier and less stressful. It also makes mealtimes enjoyable for individuals and their families.

Feeding therapy is typically conducted by trained professionals, such as speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, or feeding specialists. These certified practitioners help individuals develop the skills needed for age-appropriate eating, drinking, and swallowing, making them self-dependent. 

Types of Feeding Disorders in Children 

Feeding disorders in children are not just about the act of eating. They encompass a range of difficulties that can have significant effects on a child’s overall well-being, both physically and mentally. 

Before discussing the implications of feeding disorders, let’s look at their types. Knowing what type of feeding disorder your child is struggling with is crucial to improving their eating habits.

Aversion to Textures or Flavors

Many children with feeding disorders often exhibit strong resistance to specific food textures or flavors. For instance, a child might be comfortable eating soft foods but will refuse anything crunchy or vice versa. Such disinclinations can be so strong that even the sight or smell of the avoided food can elicit a negative response.

Difficulty Swallowing or Chewing

Some children experience difficulty with the mechanics of eating, such as chewing or swallowing, due to oral-motor challenges. It can make mealtime more taxing and can pose choking hazards. 

Sensory Sensitivities

Children with special needs, especially those on the autism spectrum, might experience sensory overload. Brightly colored foods, mixed dishes where textures collide, or the ambient sounds of a bustling dining area can all be overwhelming. These sensitivities can quickly transform the feeding experience into a distressing one.

Physical and Psychological Impacts of Feeding Disorders

As a parent or a caregiver, it is essential to understand the impacts of feeding disorders on your children to offer comprehensive support. Some implications of these disorders make it essential to seek feeding therapy in Kennesaw.

Nutritional Deficiencies

A limited range or quantity of food intake can lead to nutritional deficiencies, depriving your child of essential vitamins and minerals needed for optimal health. In the long run, this can impact the individual’s immune system, cognitive development, and overall physical health.

Poor Growth and Development

Sufficient nourishment is crucial during the developmental years. Feeding disorders can result in poor growth due to inadequate caloric intake. The lack of essential elements can also impact muscle development, bone density, and organ function. 

Social Isolation During Group Meals 

Mealtime is often a social event, be it in school cafeterias or family dinners. Children with feeding disorders might feel embarrassed about their difficulties, leading them to isolate themselves. It can even impact their social relationships and hinder opportunities for social learning.

Anxiety and Stress 

Sometimes feeding difficulties become a source of significant anxiety for children. The fear of choking, encountering aversive textures, or facing unfamiliar foods can make eating more stressful. Over time, this anxiety can generalize, causing an individual to be anxious even at the thought of having a meal. 

Who Can Benefit from Feeding Therapy?

According to statistics, 20% of children below the age of 7 experience difficulties while eating. Nearly half of the children grow out of these disorders the other half need an extra push. Feeding therapy is not just for children with special needs, it can help everyone. Below are some age-based signs you should consult a feeding therapist, especially if your child eats less.

Up to 6 months:

  • Feeding sessions go on for more than 45-60 minutes.
  • Choking or coughing during feeding.
  • Problems coordinating eating baby food and breathing. 

6 to 12 months:

  • Consistent gagging or coughing during mealtime.
  • Lack of interest in trying finger foods or having limited food preferences
  • Turning their head away or refusing to open their mouth during feeding.

Over 1 year:

  • Inability to drink from a straw. 
  • Losing weight rapidly due to not eating rough food. 
  • Avoiding entire food groups or foods with a certain texture.

Feeding disorders can be complicated, so consult a feeding therapist for a complete diagnosis. Book your appointment with Therapyland, and eliminate all eating woes from your child’s life. 

The Role of Feeding Therapists: Explained in Detail 

The role of a feeding therapist goes beyond improving your child’s picky eating habits. These professionals understand the core problem and transform the individual’s entire eating routine. Let’s look at their role and understand why you must appoint our feeding therapists for your picky eater.

Assessment and Diagnosis

Before intervention begins, our board-certified behavior analysts conduct a comprehensive feeding evaluation of your child’s eating behaviors, oral-motor skills, and any potential sensory issues. The assessment also considers medical history, developmental milestones, and any existing psychological concerns.

Tailored Interventions

Not all picky eaters are the same, and so are feeding disorders. The therapists working with your child devise an individualized treatment plan based on the specific challenges and needs.

Skill Development

Our team works on developing and strengthening skills necessary for chewing, swallowing, and managing different food textures. They employ desensitization techniques for children with sensory sensitivities to gradually introduce and acclimate them to various food tastes and textures.

Educating Families

We understand that a significant aspect of feeding therapy is bolstering families with knowledge and strategies. Our therapists educate parents on ways to make mealtime more positive, introduce new foods to the child’s diet, and reinforce feeding skills at home. 

The feeding therapists at Therapyland always go above and beyond for your children. Our comprehensive therapy sessions are tailored to your child’s individual needs and address the feeding issues they are facing. 

Call us for an in-person consultation and to understand how we can help make your little one’s life better.

How Feeding Therapy Empowers Your Children

At this point, you have a clear idea of how feeding therapy works and if it’s right for your child. Now we will help you understand how it empowers children.

Helps Build Confidence 

As children master new skills and overcome feeding challenges, they gain a significant boost in self-confidence. The newfound confidence often spills over into other areas of their lives, making them better overall.

Promotes Independence 

Feeding therapists teach skills that enable children to feed themselves independently, fostering a sense of accomplishment and autonomy.

Enhances Social Integration 

By addressing feeding challenges, children can fully participate in social situations involving food, such as school lunches or family gatherings, reducing feelings of isolation or being ‘different.’

Supports Optimal Health 

Beyond the psychological benefits, feeding therapy ensures children receive the nutrition they need for growth, development, and overall health.

Instills a Positive Relationship with Food 

By transforming mealtime from a daunting event into a positive experience, feeding therapists help children establish a lifelong healthy relationship with food.

👉Also read: Can Children’s Occupational Therapy Help My Child?

Therapyland Helps Your Child Achieve Those Feeding Milestones with Joy

Feeding therapy is undoubtedly an excellent option for children, as its main goal is to help them develop proper eating behavior. At Therapyland, we have a team of seasoned board-certified therapists who work closely with children and parents experiencing feeding disorders.

We have state-of-the-art facilities in Alpharetta, GA, that feel like home and are equipped with advanced therapy equipment for outstanding results. Let’s join hands and turn the feeding challenges into victories. Call us at 678-648-7644 and get started with our expert team today.