Where do I turn to for help with my selective eater?
There are a lot of options when it comes to getting help for your picky eater, but oftentimes parents don’t know exactly where to turn. To make things even harder, there are waitlists or insurance obstacles to tackle. When it comes to children, eating and the battles that come with both, waiting is extremely frustrating! Making things even more complex, families often don’t even know who the right professionals are who have the knowledge and ability to treat selective eating. In this month’s article, we will look at all of the options out there for parents to turn to in order to get their children help if their child has crossed over from simply being a “picky eater” to a problem feeder who needs some intervention.
Speech-Language Pathologist: It may sound a bit silly, but speech-language pathologists (or SLPs) are a great resource to turn to if your child is having feeding difficulties. While they teach children to talk and can help with articulation concerns and a wide variety of other issues, many are well-versed in the area of feeding! Just be sure that the SLP you are seeking services from has many years of experience in the feeding world. Check out a website such as www.feedingmatters.org that can help you find an SLP in your area who specializes in feeding.
Occupational Therapist: Many occupational therapists (or OTs) can also treat children with feeding challenges. Again, you will want to make sure your OT has a strong feeding background and also find out what their approach to feeding is (sensory versus behavioral). Make sure you are comfortable with how they would like to provide treatment to your child. Many approaches work, but you need to be sure the whole family is on board with the treatment approach being used. Your OT can also work hand-in-hand with your SLP if you are lucky enough to have both!
Registered Dietician: Some dieticians (or RDs) do specialize in feeding and can be a great resource, giving you valuable information regarding nutrition and goals your growing child needs to meet. Some RDs have creative tips for getting children more interested in food, fun recipes, and helping to make sure all areas of nutrition are covered, especially if your child’s diet is extremely limited.
Psychologist/Psychiatrist: Many children, and sometimes adults, with feeding challenges also have anxiety. This anxiety can impact feeding therapy in a variety of ways. Many different resources can help alleviate the anxiety and overcome some of the fears around trying new foods. Sometimes, medication can be tried, but that is not always the case. Techniques such as meditation, relaxed breathing and hypnosis may also be utilized at the level that the patient and family are comfortable with to reduce stress and anxiety surrounding food trials.
There are many other resources out there for you, but if you have a great therapist in place, they should be able to guide you in the right direction, getting you to all of the specialists you need to see and helping you along the way. That is an important part of their job, not just simply treating you or your child in therapy.