With all the changes that have gone on in society over the last couple months, the changes to daily living may (and have) become overwhelming. Recently, many of our clients have switched to telehealth services to continue to remain safe and healthy, but still receive the services to allow the children that we see reach their full potential.
The telehealth service we will focus on today is feeding therapy. Over the last month, I’ve seen this method as advantageous because it is one of the best ways to make feeding intervention as functional in the home environment. I have put together steps to my feeding sessions to help with integration in the home as you work with your therapist and beyond:
1. Start with cleanliness: Always start with handwashing to prep for the mealtime.
2. Help gather materials and prep the food (if possible): Having your kids think about the food they will explore and what materials they need is a great motivator in the prep process. If they are able, involving them in peeling, cutting, and sorting is built-in interaction.
3. Clean their area/set the table: Have your child wipe down the tabletop before the plate gets to the table. A clean area is a happy area! Have them set down their utensils for the meal.
4. Know your child’s level: Always gauge what level of feeding your child is operating at. Whether they’re working on tolerating being in the same space as food they’re learning about, touching it to their tongue, or eating a set amount of bites, every level is ok! Your therapist will always let you know what their specific goals are.
5. Utilize the Steps to Feeding: I always have this document handy for parents to utilize at home: (https://www.seattlechildrens.org/globalassets/documents/for-patients-and-families/pfe/pe2038.pdf) so that there is a visual aid as to where a child is, and what steps will come in the future when a child shows they are ready to take a step forward. Introduce some of the immediate next steps beyond their current level, when they are ready.
6. Eliminate “can you…”: When giving out directions during your meal, always utilize “you can” instead of “can you.” The latter implies that there is an opportunity to say, “no.”
7. Have an “All Done” or “Clean Up” bowl: Giving your child an outlet to let you know they are all done with a given food reduces negative outbursts and unwanted throwing of food. Give them a place that they can throw food in. I have my kids shoot a basket into it. Play is OK in these meals!
8. Assist with Clean-Up: Have your child take their food over to the trash and kiss a set amount of foods goodbye. It’s one last interaction before mealtime is over!
9. Wipe down their area: Remember, a clean area is a happy area! Have your child wipe down the tabletop one last time, this helps signal that the meal is over, and they made it! Provide lots of positive reinforcement, letting them know you’re proud of them for engaging in a full meal!