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Experiencing feeding challenges with your child? First things first: You’re not alone. In fact, feeding disorders in children are common and can be the result of medical, behavioral or oral motor issues. Whether your child is developing typically or is developmentally disabled, the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children Feeding Difficulties Center can support you through challenges such as food allergies, chewing or swallowing problems, digestion issues or picky eaters.
The Feeding Difficulties Center team is made up of a highly specialized, multidisciplinary group comprised of:
These specialists work together to treat every aspect of your child’s condition and provide comprehensive, personalized care.
Our patient-first philosophy ensures we consider every part of your child’s sensory, behavioral, oral motor or feeding disorder. We then provide family education and help find solutions to everyday eating obstacles. Here are some ways that we involve families and caregivers in our feeding care:
At two and half months old, Penelope had a cornea transplant that partially restored her sight. Complications caused by steroids aiding in her recovery brought attention to gastrointestinal issues. And due to anesthesia from multiple surgeries, Penelope suffered a slowed digestive tract and constipation. She had trouble chewing solid foods and consuming enough calories, leaving her mother, Anne, concerned about Penelope's growth and weight gain. "Orlando Health has a fabulous institute which Penelope needed. That’s how it just became a regular part of my life."
To be seen by our team, your child will first need a referral from their pediatrician or another primary care provider. (Most insurance plans require a referral to be seen by a specialty provider). Once we have the referral, we will contact you to set up your child’s initial appointment with us.
Before the first visit, you will need to provide us with your child’s complete medical history, including past medical testing results, diet log and previous therapy records. If your child is in school, his or her teacher may need to fill out and return a teacher assessment. You will need to fill out our pre-appointment paperwork.
During your first visit at the Feeding Difficulties Center, you and your child will meet with our specialty team.
Once assessed at the initial visit, our team will work together to formulate a customized recommended care plan for your child. Depending on our assessment of your child – and the goals we work with your family to set – he or she will be cared for by a specialized combination of health care professionals and services. We will advise your family – as well as your child’s referring provider – of these recommendations, and we will work with you to move forward with any recommended care.
Our professional team takes the time to get to know your child so that we can create a customized care plan just for them. The services we recommend may include some combination of the following services:
No two children’s care plans are exactly alike, and we pride ourselves on the expert recommendations and care plans we can provide to families due to our years of success in treating children with feeding disorders.
Before your child starts treatment, your family will meet with one of our social workers to determine your goals. Our team collaborates with your child and family to create meaningful goals based on your child’s current developmental status, specific feeding disorder and other personalized factors. For example, some common treatment goals include:
On average, children who undergo treatment in the intensive feeding program at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer demonstrate two levels of improvement in the types of food textures consumed, as measured using a International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative (IDDSI) model of reporting. This means children who only ate foods like oatmeal now enjoy refried beans, while children who only ate foods like soft fruits now consume french fries or pancakes. More than 30 percent patients in this program exceed these levels. Likewise, 54 percent of patients using a G-tube at the start of the intensive program improved their consumed textures by mouth by two levels. Levels of improvement are based on your child’s developmental age and are assessed based on their individual diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.