What is Feeding Therapy?
Feeding therapy helps children develop the skills they need to eat and have healthy mealtime routines. Blue Bird Day therapists are trained in understanding the significant emotional impact on a family when raising a child with picky eating and/or a limited diet. We recognize that feeding is one of the most complex activities one engages in during early childhood, and strive to be empathetic in the ways in which we address these highly important areas of needs for our children and families.
Who makes up the Feeding Therapy team?
Alexa Greif is our Director of Feeding. She is an Occupational Therapist that specializes in the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) approach to feeding. She partners with Audrey Roen, our resident pediatric dietitian. Together, they seamlessly collaborate with each child’s therapeutic team to address feeding concerns that is client-centered, developmental, functional, and evidence-based.
What are the goals of Feeding Therapy?
The first goal set by Blue Bird Day’s Feeding Therapy team is to help children maintain regulation and engage in a structured mealtime routine. Once a child learns that the mealtime environment will be safe and supportive, the team can build specific goals for each child, such as promoting oral motor skills required for eating, acceptance of non-preferred foods into their diets and development of functional mealtime skills such as using utensils. Ultimately, the goal is for each child to accept a wide variety of foods in their repertoires, eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet, and generalize these skills to outside environments.
How is Feeding Therapy incorporated into the day?
Evidence shows that children with autism and sensory processing differences benefit from from consistent mealtime routines and being slowly introduced to new foods. Therefore, the Blue Bird Day feeding program is structured to promote each child’s participation in a daily feeding routine. A rotating weekly menu ensures consistent exposure to foods and guided exploration of non-preferred foods at their scheduled snack and lunch times. The catered menus from Green Monkey are developed in collaboration with the therapeutic team, informed by our populations’ sensory differences.
How do you track goals?
Data for feeding therapy focuses on functional mealtime skills, oral motor skills, participation, and food consumption within fruits, grains, proteins, and vegetables. Setting feeding goals begins upon enrollment with the participation of the caregivers and therapists.
Blue Bird Day uses an electronic data collection and management system is used to collect data on each therapeutic session and is closely tracked by each child’s therapeutic team.
Progress is shared quarterly via email and in person during the annual IITSP/reevaluation meeting. Quarterly progress is examined giving a cumulative display of growth and a narrative for each discipline.
Below is a sample graph of feeding progress at Blue Bird Day:
How does Feeding Therapy work?
Blue Bird Day offers a blended approach to feeding tailored to the individual needs of the child and family. This means that therapists incorporate interventions across disciplines and evidence-based practice models for the best possible results. Depending on the priorities for the child, an occupational therapist may work on piercing food with a fork, whereas our developmental therapist may be promoting social participation through engagement with peers during mealtimes. For children who are highly avoidant of non-preferred foods, the therapy team will work with the child on gradual exposure through motivating play schemas, working up towards consumption.