Eating – it seems so easy (a lot of us are excellent at it): Food in mouth, chew, swallow. Simple right?
Eating is actually the MOST complex physical task that human beings engage in. It is the ONLY human task which requires every one of your organ systems, and requires that all those systems work correctly. In addition, EVERY muscle in the body is involved (one swallow for example, takes 26 muscles and 6 cranial nerves to coordinate). Plus, eating is the ONLY task children do that involve all 8 of our sensory systems. Learning, development, nutrition and the environment also have to be integrated in to make make sure a child eats correctly. (Toomey, K. 2010)
When your child is not able to eat a well balanced diet it can be extremely frustrating and worrying. As parent or caregiver you are wired to nurture your child and feeding them is a major part of that. Parents often describe to us that they feel like a failure because their child won’t eat.
It is frustrating because you lovingly prepare food and it is rejected – six times a day.
You may be worried because in our current day and age you know of the importance of fruit and vegetables, the perils of processed foods, the significant effects that food has on moods, behaviour, concentration and overall health. Yet, despite your absolute best efforts you may only be able to get your child to eat chicken nuggets, white bread, hot chips or other such foods. You may be worried about how your child is going to grow, learn, thrive, on such a limited diet.
Feeding is certainly no simple task.
Children who are picky eaters CAN learn to eat a good variety and volume of food. Over time they can learn to tolerate, try, and enjoy food. However research indicates that they rarely ‘grow out’ of their picky eating. They need help to work out what aspects of eating is hard for them, and then to work on the skills they need to overcome the parts of eating that are difficult for them. As he child gets older they develop beliefs about themselves and food that also need to be addressed.
At Grow On Children’s Occupational Therapy we have Occupational Therapists trained and experienced in Feeding Therapy using the evidence based Sequential Oral Sensory (S.O.S.) approach, developed by Dr Kay Toomey and Erin Ross. Our therapists have also attended advanced training on feeding difficulties for children with Autism.
Feeding therapy commences with a feeding assessment. Therapy can then be done individually with a child and parent/caregiver, or in a group. Food School is the program for children under 6 years of age, Food Scientists is the program for children 6-16 years.
The program involves both direct work with the child, as well as parents and caregivers to provide education, support and strategies to implement for mealtimes at home.
We would love to partner with you to help mealtimes and eating become a happy, easy experience for your child and family. If you would like further information on our Feeding Assessment and Feeding Therapy please make contact.