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Picky Eaters & Problem Feeders Therapy

St. Claire’s occupational and speech therapists have received specialized training in feeding and swallowing to provide the best treatment available to help children and their families address mild to severe feeding concerns. We work with children, birth through 18 years old, who have feeding disorders as well as picky eating, which can put children at risk for health and growth concerns.

Therapy can help children who exhibit symptoms such as:

  • Delays in oral motor skills, such as being unable to suck (drink) from a bottle or chew a variety of foods
  • Restricted or picky eating due to sensory, motor, or social challenges
  • Feeding disorders related to medical conditions
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Feeding disorders associated with developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders
  • Significant social or behavioral problems that impact eating
  • Those ready for the transition from IV or tube feeding to eating by mouth
  • Delays in increasing variety and volume of foods

Our therapists utilize a positive treatment approach, allowing children to become active eaters and develop a more positive experience with food. We respect that your child has the right to refuse to eat. Our job is to build trust, develop skills, establish routine, and find a therapeutic method in which your child is motivated to eat what we’re offering them. Aversive methods are not used except in highly unique circumstances.

In order to determine the best treatment, you will be asked to complete a feeding case history, and your child will be evaluated by the functional feeding team. If needed, a video fluoroscopy swallow study may also be scheduled. The team will then establish individualized goals and determine the best course of treatment.

Individualized goals may include:

  • Gain weight and grow
  • Accept food and drinks by mouth
  • Increase the variety, volume, and textures of foods eaten
  • Learn to chew and manage a bite of food
  • Improve the safety of his or her swallow
  • Drink from a bottle or a cup
  • Acquire or improve self-feeding skills
  • Decrease or eliminate tube feedings/TPN
  • Decrease mealtime stress, anxiety, and negative behaviors
  • Improve enjoyment of mealtimes with the parent, family, and/or caregiver

We believe family involvement and training is critical to success. Families are encouraged to actively participate in therapy sessions and will be instructed on how to carry over treatment programs at home. We will teach your family a variety of techniques and skills to help you manage your child’s eating in a step-by-step process.

Your therapy team may also suggest collaboration with your child’s support services, including school therapists, teachers, home nurses, and/or early intervention providers.