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Feeding Therapy

Opya specializes in early intervention autism therapy services, including a feeding therapy program, for young children newly diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Our services are provided at our clients’ homes via telehealth virtual appointment, and we don’t operate in clinics.

Feeding therapy is something that most parents and guardians of children newly diagnosed with ASD may not initially consider. However, studies show that children diagnosed with autism tend to have thinner bones than children without an autism diagnosis. Working with a healthcare provider can help ensure that children develop the skills needed to eat and feed to get the bone-building nutrients they need. Searching for a telehealth virtual feeding therapy program for autism in California? Call Opya at (650) 931-6300 or reach out to our team online.

What Is a Feeding Therapy Program for Children Diagnosed with Autism?

For various reasons, children diagnosed with ASD may not get the nutrition they need for healthy development and growth. Some children will only eat certain foods because of how the foods feel in their mouths. Other children may not yet have developed the skills needed for eating and feeding. Whatever the case, feeding therapy for autism can be essential to a child’s autism treatment program. This helps ensure that children diagnosed with ASD still get all the nutrients they need to grow into healthy adults.

How Does Feeding Therapy for Children Diagnosed With Autism Work?

Feeding therapy is part of typical autism therapy services because it’s important to ensure every child gets the nutrients they need. Whether their nutrient levels are being compromised by a special diet, ASD symptoms, or underlying medical conditions, parents and guardians must ensure that their children’s nutrition is balanced enough for their development and growth.

Feeding therapy begins with assessing why a child has difficulties eating and feeding. Some of the specific feeding issues associated with ASD include:

  • Difficulties chewing
  • Food aversions
  • Poor posture and core body support
  • Problems swallowing
  • Rigidity regarding food and variations
  • Sensory and texture issues
  • Trouble feeding oneself
  • Crying, choking, gagging, not sitting up properly, throwing plates and food, vomiting, and refusing to eat are common ways a child diagnosed with ASD demonstrates feeding problems.

Sensory issues can also keep a child diagnosed with ASD fixated on only eating certain foods or things that are not food, such as dirt or rocks. However, underlying medical conditions—including gastrointestinal problems, food allergies, or seizure disorders—should be ruled out or managed before a feeding therapy program starts.

A program like this aims to address the specific issues related to why a child diagnosed with ASD has issues eating and feeding. Specialized speech and language therapists can help treat feeding issues related to swallowing and chewing, for example. Occupational therapists can help to build gross and fine motor skills related to feeding, which can further promote independence in eating and feeding oneself. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a form of behavior therapy that aims to reinforce positive actions while minimizing undesired ones. ABA can help to improve behaviors related to eating and feeding. Parents and guardians can also learn ways to redirect negative eating and feeding behaviors and find ways to stop reinforcing them.

Mealtimes can produce a lot of anxiety for a child diagnosed with ASD and their family members. Feeding therapy can provide effective tools for coping with and managing that anxiety, helping children to relax enough to eat and have fewer aversions to food.

When Should You Consider a Feeding Therapy Program?

Getting children to eat a well-balanced diet can be challenging for any parent or guardian, but ensuring good nutrition for children diagnosed with autism can be particularly difficult. Between sensory sensitivities and a more intense need for structure and routine, making mealtimes peaceful and nutritious for the entire family can feel like an overwhelming task for parents or guardians of children diagnosed with ASD. Problem eating behaviors can also prevent children diagnosed with autism from getting the nutrients they need, which could exacerbate their ASD symptoms.

If you’re worried about your child’s nutritional health, talk to their treatment team about a feeding therapy program that will work with their overall treatment plan.

Ready to Learn More About Opya's Feeding Therapy?

If your child or a child in your care has been diagnosed with autism, it is important to begin therapy as soon as possible. Opya is here to help. We specialize in delivering in-home behavioral therapy accompanied by speech therapy, occupational therapy, and feeding therapy via telehealth.

Our experienced therapists will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan that meets your child’s needs. If you are looking for a speech therapy program in Northern California (Greater Sacramento Area, Central Valley, San Francisco Bay Area) or Southern California (Orange County), contact us today at (650) 931-6300 to learn more about our services.