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As a general understanding, when we talk about feeding therapy, we are talking about treating difficulties with any aspect of eating and drinking. This can look different between children, it can be; refusal to eat, only eating very specific foods (shapes, colour, texture, flavor, temperature etc) or more of a physical difficulty related to muscle, tone or movement. Sometimes feeding difficulties can appear behavioral but are often associated with an underlying difficulty.
“Feeding and swallowing problems affect between 25 to 45 percent of typically developing children, though the prevalence is much higher (up to 80%) for children with other medical and behavioral disorders” (Caring for children with feeding disorders, n.d.)
A child with difficulty feeding or eating can be extremely stressful for the child, the parents and the whole family.
Each child is different and there isn’t one specific cause. Some feeding/eating difficulties begin at birth and others develop later on and are usually identified in the toddler years. Some known causes are:
The earlier we can start working with the children who need support, the better the outcomes. Children who are having difficulty feeding/eating can be consuming less calories and not meeting their nutritional requirements. Children need to be meeting their nutritional requirements for optimal growth and development, which is extremely important in the early years.
Each child is unique and will require a unique Feeding Therapy plan which takes into account the WHOLE picture.