For parents who have picky eaters, you know the drill: frustration, negotiating, sometimes tears, repeat. However, for kids, picky eating isn't just about not wanting to eat Brussels sprouts or celery because they taste too “green”; it can be a multi-faceted problem. Texture, taste, and appearance can play a significant role in what your child will eat, far more so than for adults. For children on the autism spectrum, especially, attributes beyond taste can play such a role in their desire to eat that mealtime can be overwhelmingly negative.
While feeding therapy exists to help children "learn to eat", it can be clinical, cold, and focused on forcing the child to eat. Alternatively, speech therapy as an intervention in highly picky eating can be a creative, empathic treatment solution that encourages your child to explore the process of eating and open themselves to eating at their own pace. At Infinite Therapy Solutions, we have found speech therapy can be a highly effective way to help picky eaters grow confidence and explore new sensations.
Speech Therapy Isn't Just for Speaking
Speech therapy involves all the functions and systems that go into talking, but it's more than that.
When a child has difficulty speaking, it's often a complex issue beyond just shyness or refusal to speak. It can be a combination of poor muscle control or weakness, difficulty swallowing, making sounds, or even breathing. In some cases, a child can be overwhelmed from trying to speak while processing external stimuli. These factors, along with a sensitivity to texture and touch, can also influence a picky eater’s refusal to eat new or unfamiliar foods.
Speech therapy, along with medical intervention and occupational therapy, can help children desensitize to the act of eating when it's painful, overwhelmingly complex, or unpleasant.
Where to Start for Feeding Therapy
If you feel your child has eating issues to the point that they need intervention, the best place to start is with their pediatrician. They can determine if any underlying pathologies exist, and then advise you from there. For many children, integrated speech and occupational therapy (like what we offer our many happy families at Infinite Therapy Solutions) is a productive method towards resolving eating issues.
Feeding therapy for toddlers is a complex issue that involves cognitive and motor development and can be resolved with patience, empathy, and guided exploration of food. It’s smart to pay attention to your child’s eating habits, and not to dismiss picky eating too quickly.
Why Skip Feeding Therapy Clinics?
While it's not the case with all clinical feeding therapies, many of them focus on the result of getting the child to eat, which can be a common misconception of the problem. This is unfortunately done by forcing kids to eat in a way that can be overwhelming, particularly to a child on the autism spectrum. At Infinite Therapy Solutions, we do not force eating. We focus on a holistic, nurturing approach to resolving your child's eating difficulties to ensure we are building sustainable and comfortable relationships and routines for your child.
Infinite's Approach to Feeding Therapy in NJ
Infinite Therapy Solutions' approach is to integrate occupational, oral, nutritional, medical, and speech therapy to find a gentle, holistic approach, consisting of proven pediatric feeding therapy techniques, to resolve your child's eating difficulties. This includes determining if any underlying conditions need to be medically addressed first while still ensuring your child is getting adequate nutrition. Then we work with them to determine what therapeutic interventions can help steer them towards the "normal" developmental milestones.
Sometimes, eating problems stem from slow development in other areas, and we are extremely aware of that fact. Our integrated approach to feeding therapy techniques will tackle the eating problems from all angles and help your child master their eating skills and conquer picky eating by letting them explore food textures, tastes, colors, and smells at their own pace. We guide them but there are no force-feeding or goalposts to rush towards.
Speech and occupational therapy practices can be a helpful tool to help picky eaters.
Picky eating can be more than not wanting to eat. Texture, taste, and appearance play a significant role in what your child is experiencing when trying new foods.
Pay attention to your child’s eating habits, and seek out help if you believe intervention is needed.
Infinite Therapy Solutions offers a comprehensive, gentle approach to pediatric feeding therapy, unlike many feeding therapy clinics.
See What an Integrated Therapeutic Approach can do for Your Child
Pediatric feeding therapy is critical to ensure your child develops healthy eating habits throughout their life, but it doesn't need to be difficult or overwhelming for young children. Getting a feeding consult is easier than you think and can also be covered by insurance.
Infinite Therapy Solutions is ready to help you and your children navigate the resolution of feeding difficulties. Contact us today to schedule an evaluation of your child’s oral-motor and feeding difficulties and let us guide your child towards developmental milestones for lifelong healthy eating habits.