Southeastern Pennsylvania Autism Resource Center

1160 McDermott Drive #214
West Chester, PA 19383
Phone: 610-430-5678

Feeding Evaluations and Treatment

It has been estimated that 80% of individuals with developmental disabilities and upwards of 45% of typically developing children have some type of feeding problem. Children with medical conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux, food allergies, and prematurity are also at risk for the development of significant feeding concerns. Children with feeding disorders can present with a variety of feeding problems. The four most common types of feeding problems are total food refusal, food selectivity, texture selectivity, and deficits in related skills (e.g., self feeding, regulating bites). SPARC offers evaluations and treatment for children presenting with these problems.

The Feeding Evaluation is a comprehensive service to determine the scope and severity of the presenting feeding problem. When possible, observations of the individual eating at home and school (daycare) will be conducted. For families that live significant distances or if it is determined that an in home observation would be too disruptive, videotapes of the individual in each setting can be evaluated. We also conduct structured evaluations in the clinic. We consult with the client's primary care physician, GI physician, nutritionist, speech and/or occupational therapist as needed. This evaluation culminates in a family feedback session featuring a written report and comprehensive recommendations regarding therapeutic services.

The treatment program for each individual receiving our services will be tailored to his/her specific needs. However, typical Goals for Feeding Disorders Treatment Program include:

  • Increasing variety of solid foods accepted
  • Increasing volume of solid food and/or liquids
  • Increasing variety of liquids accepted
  • Increasing texture of solid foods accepted
  • Increasing self feeding skills
  • Decreasing meal duration
  • Decreasing disruptive mealtime behaviors (e.g., crying, screaming, hitting, throwing food, spitting).
  • Decreasing packing (i.e., holding food in mouth) or expelling

Parents are an integral part of treating a feeding disorder. Parent training will begin from the first day of treatment, although a therapist will conduct all initial feeding sessions. Initially, parents watch meals through a one way mirror while learning the treatment protocol. Once successful feeding sessions are established in the clinic by the therapist, parents and/or other caregivers will gradually transition in as therapists. Once success is achieved in the clinic with parent as therapists, treatment is moved to the home, school, and daycare, as needed.

We offer both weekly outpatient appointments as well as intensive outpatient services. Intensive outpatient services consist of daily sessions at the clinic for a period of one to two weeks with a transition to weekly or twice weekly sessions.

NOTE: Feeding evaluations and services are available to all children presenting with feeding problems appropriate to an outpatient setting, regardless of diagnosis.