Michelle Mastin PhD, Clinical Psychologist and Director of the Intensive Feeding Program at Children’s Hospital of Alabama, recently collaborated with Feeding Matters to present a webinar explaining the details of intensive feeding programs, which help individuals solve feeding challenges in a structured environment. Following is an overview:
What is an intensive feeding program?
Intensive feeding programs are typically in-patient or day treatment, 5 or 7 days per week, with 3 to 5 sessions/meals per day. The course of treatment is either 2, 4, 6 or 8 weeks long.
A care team is assembled, typically consisting of a gastroenterologist, developmental pediatrician, psychologist/social worker, dietician, and specialists who focus on skills and learning.
When IS a child ready for an intensive feeding program?
When a child:
- Has completed a medical evaluation ruling out organic contributions, or existing conditions have been treated
- Is nutritionally stable
- Is at 80% ideal body weight or maintaining their growth trajectory
- Has received an oral motor evaluation to denote safety in swallowing
- Has a history of consistent participation in outpatient feeding therapy
- Has a family and behavioral support system
- Has a well-established structure and routine at home
- Has been evaluated by a psychologist for learning strengths and weaknesses
When is a child NOT ready for an intensive feeding program?
When a child has:
- Limited or no medical evaluation to rule out and treat conditions that could be contributing to feeding challenges, such as:
- Pulmonary challenges, sleep disorders
- Cardiovascular/cardiorespiratory challenges
- Genetic conditions
- Nutritional instability, such as not gaining weight appropriate to their age
- Trouble with safety in swallowing
- Limited structure around eating and drinking at home
- Eating while sleeping
- Need for a night drip
- Extended duration of mealtime
How do you get a child ready for an intensive feeding program?
- Should be evaluated by a gastroenterologist and developmental pediatrician
- Tolerates g-tube feeds if he/she has a tube (or working with a registered dietician)
- Has pre-feeding and requisite skills for eating
- Is able to sit in supportive seating system for up to 20 minutes
- Tolerates external oral touch to face and intra-oral stimulation
- Opens mouth on command
- Accepts “dry” utensils, spoons, and drinking devices
To set a child up for success, families should:
- Make meal times clear
- Limit distractions
- Pick a consistent feeding setting and family meal times
- Set a schedule to avoid grazing
- Set and follow through on expectations with the child
- Seek support in community, fellow families, and organizations
Create a Plan
- When a child is ready, families should:
- Develop an understanding of goals and philosophy for the program
- Establish rules of treatment before embarking
- Understand rules of parent involvement
- Develop understanding of post-discharge needs
- Ask questions
To view the full webinar, please click here: Office Hours with Michelle Mastin, PhD: Intensive Feeding Therapy (Note: There will be a form to complete; you will then receive an email with details on how to watch the webinar.)
Have you used an intensive feeding program for yourself or a family member? Let us know on Facebook!