Feeding Therapy in a Therapeutic Preschool Program

Not every child benefits from the structure of a typical preschool program, especially if they experience autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental delays. While a typical preschool curriculum is created with typically developing children in mind, a therapeutic preschool program provides additional support for pivotal developmental skills. Some of the areas that a therapeutic preschool program will focus on are ABA therapy, feeding therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy.

What is feeding therapy?
If a child experiences a feeding or swallowing disorder, they may be referred to a professional who can provide feeding therapy.

Who needs feeding therapy?
Feeding therapy is used for children who have a feeding or swallowing disorder. You may also hear a swallowing disorder referred to as “dysphagia.” When a child experiences issues with feeding and swallowing, parents should present their concerns and symptoms to the pediatrician. The pediatrician will be able to run tests and assess whether the child has a disorder causing these challenges. In these cases, the pediatrician will likely provide a referral for a speech-language pathologist (SLP). A therapeutic preschool program may also be a beneficial option for children who are not yet in kindergarten.

Feeding and sensory issues
Children who experience challenges with sensory processing integration, as a result of autism or a related disorder, may also require additional support with feeding. If a child is hypersensitive to sensory input from textures, flavors, or smells, they may have challenges eating certain foods.

Who can provide feeding therapy?
Feeding therapy is often provided by SLPs, as they receive extensive training in feeding and swallowing. A SLP can also provide parents with helpful feeding strategies that can be used at home. This way there is consistency with feeding strategies and the child receives additional practice. A therapeutic preschool program may have a SLP on staff who is able to provide these services.

How is feeding therapy used in a therapeutic preschool program?
Feeding therapy can be incorporated into therapeutic preschool programs for children who experience challenges with eating, due to a feeding and/or swallowing disorder. Feeding therapy might occur at a designated time in the school day, such as during snack time.

What are some techniques for feeding therapy?
In a therapeutic preschool program, feeding therapy can be customized, as every child is a unique learner. One technique is using a Z-Vibes spoon during snack time. If a child experiences sensory issues in the form of food sensitivities, the therapist might work with the child to try foods with different textures to improve their sensory information. This might include playing with or touching food with new textures to become more comfortable with these foods. The therapist might also encourage the child to smell new foods, if they experience sensory issues with certain smells or flavors.

Do you feel your child could benefit from feeding therapy in a therapeutic preschool program?

Click the purple button below or call 773-620-7800 to contact CST Academy and learn more about Chicago’s top therapeutic preschool program. Our team of professionals, led by a top speech-language pathologist, provides many services for children in Chicago, including ABA therapy, feeding therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.