Utilized by speech therapists and occupational therapists, feeding therapy is most frequently used to teach children how to eat if they do not know how to manage food in their mouth, or how to eat new foods if they have very limited diets. Generally, feeding therapy is used with children who have special needs or medical challenges that make eating physically difficult. However, feeding therapy is also recommended for more extreme picky eaters that have a very limited diet and are not willing to try new foods.
Before receiving regular feeding therapy, an evaluation with one of the speech therapists will occur at the clinic. First, the therapist will gather information on the child's medical, feeding and developmental history. Then, the therapist will observe a typical feeding. During this time, oral-motor and swallowing skills are being assessed by the therapist so that they can determine if the child has a physical problem that is interfering with the child's ability to eat an appropriate diet safely. Additionally, the therapist will assess the feeding environment and take note of various factors, including: who is feeding the child, their techniques of feeding the child, the location where the feeding typically takes place, the type of feeding utensils used, and the feeding schedule.
Once the evaluation has occurred the therapist has determined that feeding therapy would be beneficial, a feeding therapy schedule will commence that is appropriate for the child. The tactics utilized during feeding therapy will differ depending on the child's unique needs. Overall, successful feeding therapy results in improved oral motor skills, swallowing, and feeding skills, such as acceptance of age appropriate size portions and a variety of foods.