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Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program

Our Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program includes diagnostic and treatment planning for feeding issues, providing families with meal time strategies and therapeutic recommendations in both the outpatient and intensive treatment setting.

Outpatient Program

Our outpatient program promotes a positive experience for children and their families while fostering the progression of developmental feeding milestones, therefore your pediatrician or another health care professional may refer you to our outpatient program to have all aspects of your child’s feeding experience evaluated.

Some reasons for a referral may include:

  • Abnormal suck and swallow
  • Difficulty transitioning off of tube feedings
  • Fearful of trying new foods
  • Poor weight gain
  • Restricted range of foods
  • Significant mealtime behavior
  • Trouble chewing and swallowing different food textures

The outpatient feeding team is made up of Speech Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Nutritionists and Psychologists. They will work closely with you and your family to understand your concerns for your child, and partner with you to develop goals and a treatment plan to accomplish those goals. The role of each team member is as follows:

  • Speech Language Pathologist will evaluate your child’s ability to drink, chew, and safely swallow a variety of foods and liquids
  • Occupational Therapist will evaluate your child’s strengths, coordination, postural control and breathing, sensory processing and self-regulation.
  • Nutritionist will evaluate your child’s growth parameters, current food/fluid intake and whether they are meeting their nutritional/hydration needs.
  • Psychologist observes potential emotional or behavior problems that are interfering with the feeding process.

For more information about what to expect at a Feeding Evaluation, click here.

Intensive Program

The Intensive Feeding Program uses a goal-oriented and scientifically supported approach based on the principles and procedures of applied behavior analysis (ABA).

Our intensive program is for infants, children and adolescents who have not made progress in outpatient feeding therapy at CSH or elsewhere. The child’s team observes and measures child and caregiver behavior and makes data-based decisions. The approach is highly successful and children in programs that use this approach meet 90% of their treatment goals.

The child and family participate in a continuum of services. The day-treatment program helps caregivers make a big change in the child’s feeding behavior. Once the day-treatment program ends, the child and family will remain with their same feeding team for the outpatient follow up program. The goal of the service continuum is for the child to eat like other children. Caregivers play a critical role as members of the treatment team and the program’s success depends on caregiver participation.

You should contact the Intensive Feeding Program if your child has had at least 3 months of outpatient feeding therapy and:

  • Doesn’t eat many foods
  • Gets most calories from tube feedings
  • Has mealtime behavior that causes you stress
  • Has oral-motor-skill deficits
  • Is not eating like other children
  • Is not growing well

If your child has not had at least 3 months of outpatient therapy, you can contact the Intensive Feeding Program if your child:

  • Has a naso-gastric tube and the amount he or she eats or drinks has not increased for at least 3 months
  • Has been hospitalized for dehydration two or more times in the past 2 months
  • Is losing weight

Service Continuum

The goal of the service continuum is for the child to eat like other children.

Evaluation Clinic

The purpose is to determine whether the child and family are appropriate for the program.

What to expect:

Before the evaluation, the caregiver must:

  • Get a referral from the child’s doctor
  • Fill out the screening form
  • Write down what the child eats and drinks for 3 days
  • Get the child’s medical records
  • Send these items to the intake coordinator

During the evaluation, the team will watch you and your child during a meal. The team will ask you some questions. And, the team will talk to you about what your family needs to do if your child is in the program.

Day Treatment Program

The purpose is to help caregivers make a big change in the child’s feeding behavior.

What to expect:

Caregiver participation is required. The child will come to the clinic all day, Monday through Friday, for approximately 8 weeks. A team will work with the child and caregiver and assess why the child has a feeding disorder. The team will use that information to develop a treatment plan and train caregivers to do the treatment in the clinic. The team will go to the home for about a week and make sure the treatment works for the caregivers in the home.

The child graduates from the day-treatment program when:

  • The child meets the treatment goals
  • The caregivers are trained
  • And, the team has done the home visits

Intensive Outpatient Program

The purpose is to make sure the child’s feeding behavior improves after the child and family finish the day-treatment program.

What to expect:

The program starts right after the child finishes the day-treatment program. The appointments are once or twice a week for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The therapist will watch the caregiver feed the child. The therapist will give the caregiver homework which will include feeding the child in a certain way and keeping records of the child’s feeding behavior. We typically do outpatient appointments via telehealth. The child and family participate in the outpatient program until the child is an age or developmentally typical feeder. The intensive outpatient program is about 2 to 3 years.

Meet our Feeding Disorders Team

Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program Brochure

Feeding Disorders Screening

Children's Specialized Hospital
200 Somerset Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(888) 244-5373
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Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program Treatment & Care

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