The Real Deal on Feeding Disorders in Children


Does your child struggle with eating a variety of foods, consuming a variety of textures/consistencies, and/or gaining weight/growing? Then the SOS Approach to Feeding may be appropriate for your child. The SOS Approach to Feeding is a trans-disciplinary feeding program for assessment and treatment of children with feeding deficits from birth to 18 years of age. It incorporates a variety of factors including posture, sensory sills, motor skills, behavioral learning, medical, and nutritional components to understand how these cause and maintain feeding/growth problems. My experience in the field thus far has taught me that feeding disorders are rarely the result of an isolated issue. It is typically a combination of factors that cause this difficulty with feeding. It is our job as speech-language pathologists to thoroughly assess your child in order to determine what factors may be causing or maintaining the feeding dysfunction.

Children who eat a limited variety of foods are typically referred to as “Picky Eaters”; however, did you know there are specific distinctions between a picky eater and a problem eater. Typically, a picky eater eats 30 foods or more, stops eating foods due to “burn out” but will regain these foods after 2 weeks, can touch and taste new foods even though they’re nervous, and will add new foods to repertoire in 15-25 steps on the eating hierarchy. In contrast, problem eaters eat less than 20 different foods, foods that are lost due to food jag are NEVER re-acquired, has an emotional reaction such as crying to new foods, refuses an entire category of food textures, almost always eats a different food than the family, and acquires a new food in more than 25 steps on the eating hierarchy.

Here is a list of red flags from the creator of the program, Kay A. Toomey, PhD, to determine if your child is a candidate for referral:

  1. Ongoing poor weight gain (rate re: percentiles falling) or weight loss.
  2. Ongoing choking, gagging or coughing during meals
  3. Ongoing problems with vomiting
  4. More than one incident of nasal reflux
  5. History of traumatic choking incident
  6. History of eating & breathing coordination problems, with on-going respiratory issues
  7. Inability to transition to baby food purees by 10 months of age
  8. Inability to accept any table food solids by 12 months of age
  9. Inability to transition from breast/bottle to a cup by 16 months of age
  10. Has not weaned off baby foods by 16 months of age.
  11. Aversion to all foods with a specific texture
  12. Food range is less than 20 foods
  13. An infant who cries with arching back at majority of meals
  14. Meals are battles
  15. Child is difficulty for everyone to feed
  16. Child rarely meets weight goals.

If you answered “yes” to many of the above items, then you should contact one of our centers to be evaluated by a qualified Speech-Language Pathologist.

Jessica Eberhardt M.S. CF-SLP, TSSLD


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