Feeding Therapy - All Children Learn

Today we interview Isa Marrs, a board-certified Speech-Language Pathologist who specializes in articulation, pragmatic language (social skills), and feeding disorders in children.  Isa is also the owner and operator of Isa Marrs SLP P.C., in Briarcliff Manor NY where she and her team treat children with feeding disorders.

Who provides Feeding Therapy? 

Most often it’s provided by speech-language pathologists or occupational therapists.

What is Feeding Therapy?  

In general, feeding therapy is helping people learn to eat. There is a variety of reasons people would get feeding therapy.  A simple reason would be if they’re having oral motor difficulty for some reason. This means they’re not able to use the muscles in their mouth to be able to properly, move food around to safely chew and swallow.

Feeding therapy is also provided to children who are resistant eaters and do not have any oral motor delays. Simply said, a resistant eater is a severe picky eater. This most severe form of resistant eating is called ARFID which is categorized as an eating disorder in the DSM-5. It stands for Avoidant Resistant Food Intake Disorder.

We work with Children with ARFID to help decrease fear of food and expand their diet. Usually, it’s performed directly as a one-to-one therapy session with a therapist, with homework. The family needs to be very involved in the therapy process. The goal of therapy is to increase the amount of safe foods in their diet, and to, hopefully, expand their diet to where they’re eating enough nutritious food to grow and thrive.

What profile of child is right for Feeding Therapy?

That is a wide range of children who need feeding therapy.  Children with and without special needs may need these services. It’s said that at least 80% of kids with special needs have some sort of feeding disorder. This is especially true with the diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Even children with significant developmental impairments including Autism Spectrum Disorders, can and do make great progress with feeding therapy.  

If a parent has a child that only eats one food, is that an indicator that Feeding Therapy could help? 

Definitely. If your child’s diet does not consist of nutrient-dense foods to help them grow and thrive, feeding services can be beneficial.  We offer different types of services depending on the severity of the feeding disorder and the family situation. Many children will receive direct one-on-one therapy with a feeding therapist. Others may not receive direct therapy and the therapist may work with parents on a home feeding plan and strategies to help their child.

Can Feeding Therapy be delivered in school? 

It can be delivered in a school but that’s very dependent on whether the special ed department finds the feeding disorder to impact the child’s education..

Have you seen districts add Feeding Therapy to an IEP? 

Definitely.  Our agency provides feeding therapy for several local school districts for their students, so it is possible.

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