Some children have a very limited diet, and are very particular regarding what they will eat. It is important to examine their specific food choices and determine particular characteristics. Are the food choices bland or spicy, crunchy or soft, require chewing or melt in the mouth, warm or cold, etc. It is first important to determine if the mouth has adequate motor ability for chewing, tongue movement, swallowing, and sucking. Some children who do not have adequate movement will avoid foods which require chewing and movement, wanting only foods which will easily dissolve. A strong gag reflex will cause them to avoid swallowing lumps of food. Other children may seek out chewy or crunchy foods, wanting the heavy work pattern. To improve feeding ability it is important to first determine the oral motor control and observe food choices and then determine other sensory processing strengths and weaknesses.
Over the years there have been increasingly more families who report their children are extremely picky eaters, which impacts family mealtimes. Parents are frustrated and at a loss when it comes to getting their children to eat. Mealtime should not be a struggle. In order to better work with these families and children, Jillian O’Brien, MS OTR/L, recently became trained in the Sequential Oral Sensory (S.O.S) approach to feeding. This training provided essential information related to how child development, oral motor development, anxiety, emotional regulation, and sensory modulation can directly impact feeding. We are excited to begin using the techniques and strategies of this program in order to enhance the mealtime experiences of families with picky eaters. Please contact us with any additional questions or comments, or if you would like to hear more information about this wonderful approach to feeding.