Thursday, January 26, 2012

Feeding Therapy

Does your child need feeding therapy? Has your child experienced an oral aversion (refusing to eat)? Has a highly sensitive gag reflex? Has or still has reflux? Been diagnosed with failure to thrive? Then chances are you may s/he may need feeding therapy.

The "journal to oral feeding". I can tell you from experience. Is not easy. Its a long journey and once again a journey that doesn’t resolve when you are ready, it’s all up to your child. If your child is tube fed than it might take longer.

 This is how it went with my son; He had a g-tube, he had reflux, he was (is) failure to thrive, he was trached and on a ventilator.

My son would suck on a pacifier early on and once the trach was placed we slowly tried to give him the bottle. He would take about an ounce or so, but that was it. It was just too hard for him to coordinate that suck swallow and breath thing and chances of aspirating were high.

So...we backed off for a while. We continued to work with early intervention (EI) on oral motor exercises.

When Collin came off the ventilator we introduced the bottle again. No interest. Sippy Cups? Nope. We continued introducing anything and everything we could think of. Eventually he accepted. His first food? An M&M! We were ecstatic! Long story short…there is no right way or a right answer with feeding therapy. Just keep plugging at it. Don’t give up.

Feeding Therapist

A feeding therapist is typically, an Occupational Therapist or a Speech and Language Pathologist.
We started with early intervention and when our son turned three we were fortunate enough to have a  therapist who specialized in feeding come to our home. (she’s still here..every Monday).

How does the therapy work? Its different with every child. Its truly an art not a science.
De-sensitizing and working on those facial muscles seemed (an still is, so important) for my son.
The tools that worked best for my son were the z-vibe and also the chewy tube.

For some great tips on feeding check out these and both great resources for tube fed kids.

Feeding Therapy Programs

If you tried all you can think of and don’t think your getting as far as you think you can go (listen to your mummy tummy) these programs or programs like them at your local Children's Hospital.

Attend workshops if you can. I have attended some and they are informative and worth while. Below are some recommendations of feeding programs I have heard great things about:

Childrens Hospital Richmond - Feeding Program

Kennedy Kreiger Feeding Disorder Program

Childrens Hospital Feeding and Swallowing Program

Prior checking out these programs, don't forget to check with your medical teacm, chances are they have resources and feeding therapy programs that are not listed and may also be familiar with the programs above.

For a great source of nutritional information check out Feeding Underweight Children.