Pediatric Intensive Feeding Therapy

What is Kids Empowered for Life Intensive Feeding Therapy program all about?

Traditional feeding therapy is weekly, in home or clinic. You may or may not be present. You should be given a list of things to do or try during the week. You are not quite sure why or how, but you attempt to comply.

Intensive feeding therapy is the exact opposite! We work over your shoulder so you can implement all the techniques and skills yourself. We make it an easy part of your day – every day – so you don’t feel like you have “homework” or you are just focusing on improving your child’s feeding in intervals. It requires some effort, but it becomes a seamless part of your daily parenting routine!

Is Intensive Feeding Therapy right for you?

If you are reading this, you are looking for help for your child with feeding issues. Before we discuss if intensive feeding therapy is a good fit, we need to differentiate between picky eaters and problem feeders. As I’ve mentioned before, picky eating can be a pretty normal phase in childhood. Sure, it’s frustrating and can cause family turmoil, but for many kids, it truly is a phase. Picky eaters typically have a food repertoire of 20 or more foods from different categories. They may go on “food jags”, eating something daily for a few weeks or months, then completely rejecting it. Sometimes they pass through the phase quickly and sometimes it lasts for much longer. Thankfully, pickiness is easier to deal with overall.

On the other hand, problem feeders often eat 20 or fewer foods and may reject entire categories, such as meat or vegetables. They may have had a varied diet that regressed. They may have reflux, problems with the swallowing and chewing muscles, or sensory issues that trigger averse reactions to texture, smell or even the look of food. Nutrition and weight might be a true concern. A choking incident or bad food experience could be the cause of anxiety or fear surrounding food.

Most of the clients I see for intensive feeding therapy have a diagnosis of autism. Current statistics report up to 90% of autistic children are also problem feeders. It is highly likely that many of these children have been involved in years of feeding therapy. Years!

My intensive feeding therapy program moves the needle on problem feeding in 6 weeks!

You read that right!

You are now probably asking yourself all the questions: How does it work? What is different? What kind of magic formula works in 6 weeks? Where can I drop my kid off to get this done?

I’m going to tell you everything, so grab a cup of coffee or tea and settle in.

Imagine not fighting with your child at every mealtime to “just try it” or “take one bite then you’ll get the iPad”. Imagine not having to shop and cook separately. Imagine being able to go out to restaurants, to parties, and to family gatherings without having to pack separate “safe foods”.

Intensive feeding therapy addresses all of these points that your family struggles with. As a mom and a therapist, I’ve seen my share of picky eaters and problem feeders!  I developed this program because I’ve done years of traditional, weekly feeding therapy, seeing little change, or small changes that only “stick” when I am present with my client. It’s as frustrating to me as it is to you. Folks – I want your child to eat the same things that he eats in feeding therapy all week long, when I’m not there! But how?

This might surprise you, but the secret is simple:

  1. Focus hard on the goal!
  2. Practice the skills learned daily.
  3. Don’t stop!

You may be thinking that it sounds like I’m going to teach you how make a perfect free throw, or learn to play piano, or lose 10 pounds, or write a best-seller. I’m not—but the formula is definitely the same. Anything that we focus intensely on will change. First you learn how to do the thing, then you do it. LOTS and LOTS!

You may be thinking that you’ve put time in, you’ve followed therapist’s recommendations without seeing any changes. This may be true, but if you didn’t see changes, you were not using (or given) the tools that your child actually needed to help him or her.

Allow me to explain what intensive feeding therapy really is and is not.

In this program, I give you the tools that you need to be able to implement the work daily. I coach you and your child directly three or more times per week, and we use email or text messaging to check in through the rest of the week. We plan new foods together, keep a log of what worked and what didn’t together, and I hold your hand for 6 weeks until you are ready to take over on your own! Best of all, you do not have to drive to a clinic or worse, a hospital, for the program. Feeding therapy occurs 100% in your home via teletherapy!

My intensive feeding therapy program starts with a mindset change, shifting the roles and responsibilities back to the parent(s). I become your ally and your partner, but you are the one facilitating the change. I teach you how to improve flexibility, about optimal seating, how to eliminate bribes and bargains, and how to take accepted foods and build on them with  a variety of methods including sensory and food play, sensory exposure, and food chaining. I teach you how to flavor mask and use dips and condiments and crunchy items to pave the way for new flavors and textures. I coach you in how to deal with well-meaning family members who may be giving you outdated or false advice. I show you how to add fun back into mealtimes.

Can you tell that I’m pretty excited about this? I am – because it works! I’ve seen my clients go from crying throughout and avoiding mealtimes to sitting at the table, exploring food in front of them, initiating a desire for something new. They’ve expanded their food repertoire and improved their flexibility with packaging and how food is served. I’ve witnessed them grow more confident and in control of their own bodies. All of this can occur in 6 weeks!

Journey From Problem Feeder To Typical Eater

Let me take you on a quick journey. Your child is eating 30 or fewer foods, typically from the carbohydrate and dairy category. You are at your wit’s end. Everyone and their grandma keeps telling you to just serve your child what you want them to eat and they’ll eat it when they are hungry enough. Or, conversely, you’ve thrown in the towel and have become a short order cook, making separate meals day in and day out. Either way, you are tired, stressed, and just want your son or daughter to eat more than what they currently are eating. You’ve read books and searched online, you’ve taken Grandma’s advice, you listened to your pediatrician, and you’ve tried once weekly feeding therapy. All for naught. You decide to try intensive feeding therapy.

We are going to be your best friend for the next 6 weeks!!

We begin with lessons on how to remove the pressure and change everyone’s attitude about the entire mealtime and feeding process. Your child begins to trust you, but it’s still tough. You can’t go out or have dinner with friends or grandparents. You learn to create predictable routines and skills to help improve trust. Your child begins to trust you, and you see progress. Through exposure, fun, routines and a relaxed atmosphere, he or she is learning to change their relationship with food, and with you! Finally, your child is willing and able to eat a varied diet!

It’s not a super easy path, but the hard work pays off! If you are ready to start the journey, fill out this questionnaire to see if we are a good fit for you!

We are accepting Intensive Feeding Therapy clients in Arizona and California!