Mealtime Myths

Children with feeding challenges often find eating unpleasant, painful, stressful and hard work. These negative feeding experiences eventually lead to avoidant and aversive behaviors as the child learns to suppress their appetite and no longer recognize hunger as a cue to eat.

Eating is an instinctive drive in infancy, as we are born with primitive motor reflexes which help pave pathways in the brain for voluntary motor control through repeated practice and experience. However, these reflexes integrate at varying stages of infancy and eating will no longer be instinctive. Eating will become a learned behavior. Therefore, if your child has “learned” that eating is painful, negative, stressful, or too difficult, he/she will refuse to eat. Additionally, if your child did not exhibit the appropriate reflexive responses initially, this can lead to disorganized and dysfunctional feeding skills and inappropriate compensatory motor patterns.

Being messy is an important part of learning to eat. Children learn about the properties of food by touching and playing with them before they are willing to put the food in their mouth. Children are also more likely to consume a food if it is engaging and interesting.
Eating is the only human task which requires all of your body’s organ systems to work correctly as well as simultaneous coordination of all 8 of our sensory systems. One swallow requires the activation of 26 muscles. Eating is the most complex physical task a human engages in!

Some children will outgrow picky eating but most do not. The children that do not outgrow pick eating typically have an underlying issue that has not been addressed (i.e. past/present reflux, sensory aversion, metabolic disorders, oromyofunctional disorders etc).

Food is NOT solely for fun before the age of 1! It is a crucial for SKILL BUILDING and gaining repeated practice integrating and strengthening motor plans necessary for consuming more difficult textured foods over the age of 1.

Striving To Answer All Of Your Questions

Commercial Insurance, CMS (Title 21 & Title 19), Amerihealth Caritas, Straight Medicaid, Early Steps (Palm Beach and Treasure Coast), Gardiner Scholarship, (Step Up For Students)

Since every child’s feeding disorder is different, your therapist will work with you to identify appropriate foods for your child and will discuss what needs to be brought from home and what will be provided at the office.

This is a concern for many parents. The Intensive Feeding Program is a full-day program, so other therapies may have to be placed on hold until completion of the program. We also understand that school is important and will be happy to assist with communicating with the school to ensure your child will not fall behind.

We have had families from out of town, out of state and out of country complete our program. We have collaborated with local Airbnbs and hotels in Boca Raton who have special rates for families enrolled in our program. Additionally, Boca Raton and surrounding areas have many family friendly activities to do during the day in between sessions. 

Your participation in your child’s therapy, whether it be outpatient or intensive, is critical to his/her progress. For the Intensive Feeding Program, many of the parents are not in the therapy sessions until the 4th week of the program, at which time the family is encouraged to observe and learn feeding techniques and strategies. Parent training is provided throughout the 8 weeks to encourage carryover into the home environment.

We understand that the 8-week program may be difficult for some of our families due to work and other commitments. Some of our families found it beneficial to take leave of absence from work using the Family Medical Leave Act. Other families have used family members or other caregivers to bring their child to treatment. Your child’s consistent attendance is vital to his/her progress and we will be happy to work with you to make it happen. Summertime is a very busy time for the Intensive Feeding Program as it relieves the stress of navigating the full day schedule with school. If you are interested in receiving therapy during the Summer, it is important you start the process early and secure your spot.

Our intensive feeding program is a full day program. You can expect to be at the clinic from 8-2:30 pm or 8:30-3 pm. Scheduling changes week-to-week are based on schedule availability and we will do our best to make changes as needed. Throughout the day your child will receive three, 30-minute feeding therapy sessions and one 30 minute occupational therapy session. There will be one 30 minute meeting per week with the therapy team to discuss weekly progress and the upcoming week’s goals, as well as any home program recommendations.

Your therapist will discuss which program is best suited for your child following a comprehensive feeding evaluation.
During your child’s initial feeding evaluation, the therapist will conduct a detailed birth, medical, developmental and feeding history to determine factors that may be contributing to your child’s feeding difficulties. Then, your therapist will observe your child eating both preferred and non-preferred foods (or difficult foods) to evaluate his/her oral motor skills, sensory processing skills, postural stability in the feeding chair or at the table, self-feeding abilities, and any aversive or avoidant behaviors that arise. Therapy techniques will be trialed during the evaluation to determine how your child learns best to tolerate, accept and consume new foods/textures. After completion of the evaluation, your therapist will discuss the therapy program best suited for your child, as well as recommendations for frequency of therapy and any medical referrals that need to be addressed to maximize progress.
Every child and family’s individual needs vary and we are unable to predict how long your child will be in therapy to gain functional feeding skills. Children make more rapid and longer lasting gains toward functional feeding skills with consistent attendance and parental carryover with all recommendations.