For most children and adolescents, eating and drinking is an enjoyable experience, undertaken several times a day, usually in the company of family or friends. Meals and snacks serve the purpose of obtaining nutrition and hydration, but also provide a context for social interaction. But for those with sensory or motor control issues and their family members, sitting down together for a meal can be anything but enjoyable.
RiverView Health’s Rehab Services Team offers a variety of services to help children who have oral motor challenges, food sensitivities, and poor nutrition. Feeding therapy is an approach that helps to identify challenging patterns or underlying sensory processing difficulties and help to remediate them making eating a positive and enjoyable experience.
“Through the therapy, the therapists work on improving oral motor strength to assist with bottle feeding, manipulation of food, and improve tolerance of food through a sensory approach,’’ reported April Waters MOTR/L, who is trained in the Beckman Oral Approach to Feeding, Sequential Oral Sensory Approach, and has completed continuing education on oral feeding approaches.
If your child is experiencing any of the following issues, he/she may benefit from feeding therapy:
- “Picky eater”, resistant to trying new foods
- Gagging or vomiting with foods present or during meals (not while eating)
- Limited diet
- Developmental history of feeding challenges
- Nutritional challenges
- Failure to Thrive (FTT) or below growth curve
- Behaviors or emotions (anxiety, meltdowns) surrounding mealtime
- Doesn’t ask for food; not hungry often
- Craves certain foods/tastes/textures and chooses them above all other foods/snacks
- Excessive drooling
- Pockets food or overstuffs while eating
- Difficulty identifying tastes/smells
- Overly concerned with how food “looks”
- Gagging or difficulty with tooth brushing
- Mouthing of non-food objects and other oral motor seeking behaviors
Appropriate management of eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties is important for maintaining respiratory health, optimizing nutritional status, maximizing independence and supporting social participation.
For more information regarding feeding therapy, talk to your child’s primary care provider or call Rehab Services at 281.9463.
Recently, Minnkota Power Cooperative funded a special highchair through the RiverView Foundation for children receiving feeding therapy at RiverView.
“The donation from Minnkota is greatly appreciated,’’ said Waters of the adjustable chair designed to fit children 6 months to adolescent. “This highchair is important to ensure the optimal seating position for a child when providing food therapy. It is important for the child to be positioned appropriately so he/she has support at their torso, hips, and feet. The foot plate is adjustable to make sure the child’s feet are supported, and not dangling. Also, it is important to make sure the hips are at 90 degrees, and the knees are at 90 degrees.’’
The Minnkota donation came from the company’s Jeans Day Fund. The Fund has raised more than $62,000 for local charities since it was launched in 2011.
For more information on projects through the RiverView Foundation, contact Director Randy Schoenborn at 281.9249.
Pictured above: A pediatric patient enjoys her time in the new highchair used for feeding therapy. The chair was purchased with funds from Minnkota Power.
Pictured above: Randy Schoenborn, RiverView Foundation, and Kim Eken, Minnkota Power Cooperative.