How is a feeding disorder diagnosed?
Feeding disorders can often be difficult to diagnose because they can manifest in many ways. Parents often seek help from various resources before the root of the problem is discovered, which often could be an undetected or undiagnosed medical condition. One of the strongest benefits of our program is the ability of the Feeding Difficulties Center team to evaluate, diagnose and treat pediatric feeding issues all in one setting. Through a thorough evaluation and methodical approach from the multidisciplinary team, signs and symptoms are assessed and diagnosed and a family-centered treatment plan is developed for each child
Some of the most common indications of a feeding disorder include:
- Food refusal
- Food preferences by taste, textures and/or brand
- Inability to safely handle presented foods
- Coughing, choking, gagging or vomiting occurring when offered food or liquids
How are referrals made to the Feeding Difficulties Center?
A referral can be made to the Feeding Difficulties Center by contacting 321.843.2206. Parents will receive a questionnaire to complete and upon its return, the Feeding Difficulties Center team will review the child’s current history of feeding difficulties, medical testing results, and therapy evaluations to determine if the child is appropriate for a multi-disciplinary clinical assessment or would benefit first from being seen by the gastroenterologist prior to coming to the center.
How are patients selected for the Feeding Difficulties Center?
Currently, the Feeding Difficulties Center is accepting patients within the age range of 18 months to 12 years of age with a cognitive level of at least 18 months. Patients must also have functional arm movement and be able to sit up and keep their head up on their own. The team evaluates patients referred to the center by assessing the child’s oral motor skills, feeding skills and current developmental status. Parents or caregivers are also formally interviewed during the assessment to determine if the child is meeting his or her daily nutritional needs.
A parent’s completion of behavioral and sensory questionnaires assists in providing information regarding the child’s coping skills, behavioral responses to stressors, and ability to regulate sensory input. Once the evaluation is completed, the team will determine if further medical testing is necessary, if the child would benefit from outpatient therapy or behavioral intervention services prior to initiating intensive feeding therapy, or if the child is appropriate to begin an intensive outpatient feeding treatment program. Insurance benefits will be verified to assist with determining eligibility for admission into the program.
How does the Feeding Difficulties Center’s multidisciplinary team provide treatment?
The Feeding Difficulties Center team is made up of a highly specialized, multidisciplinary group comprised of gastrointestinal (GI) physicians, occupational therapists, mental health professionals and clinical nutritionists. The GI physician provides medical services to patients with symptoms of digestive problems and diseases and provides medical management to patients during the intensive feeding program.
The occupational therapist evaluates each potential patient’s oral motor skills, feeding skills and overall developmental skills. The therapists also provide the therapy/feeding sessions while the patient is in the intensive feeding program.
The mental health professional identifies parenting patterns that affect the patient’s feeding difficulties and works with families to develop individualized behavioral treatment plans. They provide short term solution-focused therapy and communicate with the child’s current behavioral provider. In addition, upon completion of the intensive feeding program, they make referrals to community resources.
The clinical nutritionist supervises the reduction of the child’s tube feedings and oral supplement drinks, educates families on diet changes and allergies, and counsels families on age-appropriate patterns for meals and snacks.
What is the Daily Schedule for the Intensive Feeding Difficulties Program?
At least one parent/caregiver must be present during the entire time their child is in the feeding program. The parent/caregiver must be able to attend all feeding sessions daily, Monday through Friday, during the length of the program, generally lasting about 4 weeks. The parent/caregiver will be required to either observe or participate in all treatment sessions and attend all scheduled team meetings during the duration of the program. Carryover of the skills addressed and recommendations made by the medical team is essential for each patient’s short- and long-term success. There will be 3 to 4 treatment sessions per day, and each session will include a meal or snack. The parent/caregiver may be asked to bring in food items for their child during the 4-week program. If your child requires supplemental tube feeding, all required tube feeding supplies must be provided by the parent/caregiver.
For general information and questions about our program, please call 321.841.7116 or email us at: [email protected]