Feeding Therapy in Arlington
An Overview of Feeding Therapy in Arlington
It can be daunting getting your toddler to eat. They can be notoriously picky, preferring to eat one type of food or throw a tantrum during meal times. There are many causes of poor feeding habits, which can sometimes not be behavior-related.
Such causes include sensory processing disorders, autism, motor deficits linked to some neurological conditions. Whatever the causes, if your child has trouble during mealtimes, they can benefit from our feeding therapy in Arlington. The children work with our leading speech or occupational therapists to ease stress during mealtimes.
What is Feeding Therapy?
Feeding therapy entails helping kids eat or learn how to eat better. Though some dietitians can provide direct treatment, additional care and support are necessary to help the child improve their feeding habits. As a result, speech-language pathologists or occupational therapists provide the best feeding therapy.
At Synaptic Pediatric Therapies, we understand that feeding therapy is a specialty within a specialty, and not every OT or SLP is qualified. For this reason, we have ensured that our therapists have the best training in pediatric care, which includes feeding therapy.
Does My Child Need Feeding Therapy?
Children need a lot of nutrients to grow and develop crucial skills. Poor feeding habits can affect their growth which can lead to poor health. Often, parents and caregivers brush off these poor feeding habits as ‘just picky eating,’ expecting the toddlers to grow out of it.
Sadly, there could be an underlying condition affecting their choice of foods which may need resolving. Below are some behaviors that may necessitate a visit to an OT or SLP.
- Unable to chew foods, often swallowing whole foods.
- Problems swallowing food or refusing to eat some foods with different consistencies.
- Some food flavors, temperature, and texture causing a gag reflex, or they avoid them.
- Irritability and fussing during mealtimes
- Difficulty controlling or coordinating food moving around the mouth, chewing, or swallowing.
- Difficulty transitioning from the texture of one food to another.
- Chokes and gags when feeding.
- Coughing frequently when eating.
- Refuses to eat new foods.
- Vomits frequently during feeding or immediately after.
- Pushes food away
- Eats a limited variety of foods.
- Longer feeding times
- Negative feed time behaviors where they throw a tantrum, cry, pulls away from food, or fails to engage during mealtime.
- Infants can portray difficulty when coordinating suck/swallow/breathe patterns when breastfeeding or sucking on a bottle.
- Has ongoing bloating or diarrhea
Skills Learned During Feeding Therapy
Feeding therapy goes beyond just teaching a child how to eat. At our leading feeding therapy clinic in Arlington, we build a relationship with your child, identifying the cause of the problem. After which, we can develop a tailored treatment program involving various techniques to address the cause. Our therapists will work with your kid to build new skills making feeding time enjoyable. A patient’s need will primarily determine the area of focus. However, below are some of the skills that your child will learn during feeding therapy sessions.
Various factors such as allergies, developmental delays, and illness can affect the skills a child will require to drink or eat. In these cases, our therapists in Arlington help train your child to control chewing, sipping, sucking, and swallowing when drinking or eating. The most effective way to do this is to increase a child’s oral strength and range of motion. The sessions are fun and engaging, which helps children improve.
Improving Eating Experience
It is common to develop a negative attitude towards something in which you have difficulty. It is the same with children. If their conditions have led to struggling with meals, they may have a bad attitude towards eating and mealtimes. In these cases, the therapist focuses on creating positive drinking and eating experiences.
Creating positive associations with food and mealtime helps in improving the overall feeding routine. We also help children gain self-feeding independence, which creates a sense of accomplishment. They can learn how to sip from a cup, hold a spoon as they feed, or drink from a straw. Learning these new skills makes it easy for the child to start enjoying their meals and drinks.
Another skill they learn is gradually broadening the type and the amount of foods they eat. Children experiencing developmental delays, illness, sensory aversion, or allergies can have discomfort trying out various food types. Feeding therapy in these cases will focus on increasing their choice of foods.
As a result, they can more healthy and balanced meals. If the child suffers from sensory aversion, our therapists gradually increase their exposure to various foods by learning how to reduce sensitivity to foods
What Happens in A Feeding Therapy Session
Typically, sessions can run for 45- 60 minutes, and they are done weekly. Parents often discuss with our therapists to determine the best session frequency to achieve the desired goals. During the first session, our trained feeding therapists in Arlington will discuss the kids feeding history, current behaviors, and concerns and set realistic goals for the program. The goals can include:
- Identifying motor, sensory, oral emotional, and cognitive feeding milestones.
- Improve a child’s behavior and feeding skills around new types of foods.
- Building oral muscles strength and range of motion to improve feeding.
- Increasing a child’s nutrition intake
Often, we involve the parents in therapy to teach and model the skills you will need to practice at home. We have play-based sessions, which get messy as they engage all the senses; taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing. The sessions help the child get comfortable with various food textures gradually. It can also entail training and strengthening oral muscles.
Book an Appointment Today
Mealtimes do not have to be a battle in your home. You can learn new tactics to help when feeding your child. You can learn how to introduce colorful foods, cut into different shapes, and invent playful names for foods. Our feeding therapy program in Arlington also helps by identifying and addressing underlying conditions. Contact Synaptic Pediatric Therapies today and book an appointment.