Eating – it seems so easy… food in mouth, chew, swallow.
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 six cranial nerves to coordinate). Plus, eating is the only task children do that involve all eight of our sensory systems. Learning, development, nutrition and the environment also have to be integrated in order to 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.
You may be worried because you know the importance of fruit and vegetables, and the significant effects that food has on moods, behaviour, concentration and overall health. Yet, despite your best efforts you may only be able to get your child to eat a limited range of foods. You may be worried about how your child is going to grow, learn and thrive on such a limited diet.
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 are hard for them and then to work on the skills they need to overcome the parts of eating that are difficult for them. As the child gets older, they develop beliefs about themselves and food that also need to be addressed.
Our Occupational Therapists are trained and experienced in Feeding Therapy using the evidence-based Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) approach.
Feeding therapy starts with a feeding assessment. Therapy can then be offered individually with a child and parent/caregiver, or in a group.
Early Start Australia’s Feeding Therapy Programs include:
Program delivery varies between clinics so please check with your local clinic about their programs.