“Food is a lot of people's therapy - when we say comfort food, we really mean that. It's releasing dopamine and serotonin in your brain that makes you feel good."- Quote by actor Brett Hoebel.
Does your child do any of these during meal or snack times - cry, chuck plates and food, choke, gag, throw up, and say no to food? If yes, then you are facing eating issues that needs to be addressed.
A large number of children on the spectrum tend to have feeding issues and eating challenges. If not checked in time, it can have serious long-term repercussions such as physical & mental growth and thriving as a productive & contributing citizen. Some people with ASD tend to have challenges with fine and gross motor skills that pose a challenge to eating. Plus, they may also suffer from gastrointestinal problems. Communication challenges disrupt their ability to convey their requirements and needs in context to food. Sensory issues further act as disruptors. The solution to these problems is feeding therapy, which plays a crucial role in advancing positive eating habits and improving the overall health of children with ASD.
Feeding therapy forms a part of a larger treatment plan for children with ASD. It entails increasing the number of food items in a child's diet as well reducing / eliminating maladaptive behaviors related to food & eating habits. Experienced and licensed therapists impart feeding therapy in collaboration with the family members and givers. As we know, comprehensive treatment plans for children need the support and participation of all stakeholders that are invested in the child's and their future.
The first step in the feeding therapy is a detailed assessment that identifies the reasons behind the fussiness or rejection of food items. Existing medical reasons such as food allergies and sensitivities, seizure disorders, pain, reflux, and gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, stomach pain, or constipation need to be identified, managed or solved.
In feeding therapy, the therapists / professionals find ways to direct maladaptive behaviors pertaining to meals & food items and find solutions to reduce them as much as possible so your child can access a full and healthy diet. Mealtimes and eating invokes stress in many autistic kids and their families. Feeding therapy offers varied helpful tools for enabling them to relax and enjoy their meals while reducing dislike for many food items.
Feeding therapy works with other aspects of treatment / therapy such as speech & language, occupational, and ABA to be successful. If you are facing eating issues with your child, it is time to reach out and get help. Let the child discover the joys of eating a cornucopia of healthy food items and grow up to be as fit as they deserve to be.