Feeding and swallowing disorders can lead to health, learning, and social problems. Feeding disorders include problems with sucking, eating from a spoon, chewing, or drinking from a cup. Swallowing disorders, also called dysphagia (dis-FAY-juh) are difficulties with moving food or liquid from the mouth, throat, or esophagus to the stomach. Feeding and swallowing disorders are often related to other medical conditions but may also occur without a known cause.
Feeding therapy can resolve dysphagia. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) help children resolve feeding and swallowing problems.
Children may have difficulty learning how to breast feed, take a bottle, eat purees, or eat chunky and solid foods. Children who have difficulty eating and swallowing foods/liquids will benefit from seeing a speech and language pathologist who specializes in feeding.
Adults may also benefit from feeding therapy
Adults who suffer from a stroke, a brain injury, a neurological or degenerative disease, such as Parkinson’s or ALS may also suffer from dysphagia, a feeding disorder. Feeding therapy can resolve feeding disorders and can help people who suffer from feeding disorders.
Picky and problem eating are also types of feeding challenges
Studies suggest, between one-quarter and one-third of children, on average, will struggle with some type of feeding and/or growth issue at some time during the first 10 years of life. Picky eaters were reportedly 15-50% of these feeding/or growth issues.
A pediatric feeding disorder is
a disturbance in oral intake of nutrients, inappropriate for age, lasting at least 2 weeks and association with 1 or more of the following: medical, nutrient, feeding skills, and/or psychosocial dysfunction. A pediatric feeding disorder is in the absence of the cognitive processes consistent with eating disorders, and the pattern of oral intake is not due to a lack of food or congruent with cultural norms.
What is a picky eater?
A picky eater can be characterized by:
- Strong preferences regarding liked and disliked foods, including taste, texture and how the food is prepared
- A limited variety of different foods that he/she will eat (often excluding a nutrition and/or texture category)
- A restricted number of foods he/she will eat (~20-30 foods)
- Avoidance of new foods
- Often refusing to eat the “right” foods or “right” amounts
- Getting more upset than peers when pressured by parents to eat what is “right”
- Struggling more with their parents about food and eating than peers
- Being more likely to be served a special meal by their parents
What is a problem feeder?
A problem feeder is a child who demonstrates significant and often extended challenges with feeding/eating patterns characterized by:
Refusal to try new foods (pretty much at all)
Probable growth and/or nutrition problem(s)
Some type of skill deficit (motor and/or oral- motor)
Learned avoidance behaviors are significant enough to cause family disruption at meals and/or limit child’s ability to eat with others
How to resolve feeding disorders for picky and problem eaters?
At Crossroads we are trained in SOS Approach to Feeding Sequential – Oral – Sensory. SOS is designed to assess and address all the factors involved in feeding difficulties. SOS examines and treats the “Whole Child.” The SOS Approach to Feeding is Philosophically based on the idea that “the child is always right.” Children learn best through PLAY. Therefore, the most effective Feeding Therapy uses Play-With-A-Purpose to teach new skills. Children who struggle to eat have more sensory symptoms than peers. Eating is the most complex sensory activity one engages in. Children who struggle to eat have more sensory symptoms than their peers. At Crossroads we are trained in SOS and other feeding methodologies that are evidenced based.