Do you feel like you have had enough training on feeding? I believe that feeding therapy is needed more than ever and SLPs can carve out niches in this area.
What is feeding therapy?
Feeding therapy refers to treatment for feeding disorders. A disorder is beyond picky eating. It means that a child eats a limited number of foods, oftentimes when written down the list is short (20 foods).
What is a picky eater vs a problem feeder?
Many children are picky eaters and do not want to try new foods and like to stick preferred foods. But they aren’t resistant to trying variations of foods they like. For example, if they like chicken they will eat it breaded, grilled, or maybe even a chicken salad. Or if they like eggs, they will eat them scrambled, over-easy, hard-boiled and in a quiches.
Problem feeders are rigid and will have tantrums over new foods. There might be sensory concerns. For example, they will only eat chicken nuggets from McDonalds. Chicken nuggets from another restaurant or bought at the grocery store are not acceptable to them.
Additionally, problem feeders might not be hitting their growth curves, which some label as “failure to thrive.” But those variables do not have to be in play. If the child’s feeding behaviors are impacting their quality of life, then it is time for professional help.
What is the SOS Feeding Approach?
The SOS Feeding Approach is a feeding therapy approach for group therapy and certification program for speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, and other professionals. The approach is playful, low pressure, and based on principles of desensitization.
I am not certified in SOS nor am I an expert. However, in graduate school one of my placements was in an outpatient therapy clinic. There I witnessed speech-language pathologists working with kids in feeding therapy.
Grad school was a long time ago and I never went down the path to become SOS Feeding certified, but I wanted to share about it in a video. Why? Because I don’t think enough people know about the SOS approach and I believe it is super valuable and rewarding to families, kids, and SLPs. If you are thinking about expanding your skill set and you have a passion for feeding, this is an interesting direction to go into. I’ve used some of what I witnessed in grad school with my own sons when introducing foods. Watch the video now: SOS Feeding Approach – Feeding Therapy
How to Do the SOS Feeding Approach
Like I said before, I’m not an expert nor am I certified in the SOS Approach. However, I really enjoyed what I learned in grad school. First, it appeared that it was a playful and fun approach for kids. Professionals encourage kids to play with food. Food was introduced in groups by some feature (like color). Kids had to take one of each. Everyone, including the therapists, had one of each food on their plates. Some foods were preferred and others were non-preferred or new.
All foods were tolerated on their plates, but they were allowed to remove foods with a napkin or utensil. At each session kids interacted with each food moving along a hierarchy. Over many sessions they would move from touching a food with a napkin to playfully putting the food on their head, then face, then tongue. Then they encouraged kids to take a nibble and spit it out. Lastly, would be chewing and swallowing some food.
What parents need to know about feeding therapy for toddlers
What I took away from feeding therapy as a parent was profound. I think power struggles are bogging down parents. We forget that eating is fun. It is easy to feel hurt when a child refuses a prepared food. Try to suppress those hurt feelings and move on.
Also, I learned that multiple exposures is vital for kids. Keep presenting new foods and have them around kids. Let kids get messy and have fun with food -even if they don’t eat it. Incorporate kids in cooking and baking, even if they get messy.