Helping Kids To Eat.
Avoidant Food Intake Disorder is an eating disorder where people of any age avoid certain foods because of their sensory aversions to food. A person with ARFID may find the look, the feel, the smell, or the taste of the food disgusting. Some people with ARFID avoid food because they have a fear of choking, a fear of getting sick from the food or fear of vomiting. People with ARFID avoid whole food groups making their diet nutritionally inadequate, often relying on supplements to boost their nutritional or caloric needs. Managing ARFID requires an experienced clinician. Justine uses principals of evidence-based practices such as food chaining, SOS therapy and CBT.
Many children with ASD have sensory processing difficulties, low muscle tone and anxiety. One or more of these issues can make feeding difficult. Often diets are restricted to such an extent that entire food groups are avoided. It is not uncommon to hear a parent say “my child only eats white food” or “my child won’t eat that cracker anymore because the packaging has changed”. Levels of restrictiveness can vary from child to child but rarely do these selective eaters eat a balanced diet. These restricted diets can put a child at risk of nutritional deficiency, poor weight gain, excessive weight gain and in extreme cases the need for tube feeding. Rarely do these eating practices correct themselves without therapy. Justine will coach parents on how to work with their child, establish mealtime routines and using the SOS approach to eating help children overcome sensory issues with food.
Justine sees many children with ADHD, these busy children often don’t have time to eat and can really struggle to sit at the table for long enough to eat. Justine can offer parents a range of strategies to help ensure these children are able to meet their nutritional requirements.
At Happy Eaters we acknowledge that the management of complex feeding issues can sometimes require a team effort. Justine is willing to liaise with the child’s other therapists to implement a plan to assist in the management of these complex feeding issues.
Food School is a fun and interactive program designed to help children make friends with foods. Small groups of children attend Food School with their parents. We invite children and parents to interact with a range of foods in a fun and non-threatening way. Food School is run fortnightly over a school term and sessions are run by Justine and her Therapy Assistant.
Infant Feeding Difficulties and Fussy Eaters
Starting solids comes easily for most babies, however some babies can find eating solid foods tricky. Babies who struggle with solids may gag on food, spit food out or clamp their mouth shut and refuse to take food from a spoon. A delay in taking solids can have have an impact on a baby’s nutritional requirements with iron being one of the most important nutrients from 6 months of age. Justine can help ensure a baby’s nutritional needs are met whilst they are learning to eat and can help with a range of strategies to make meal times easier. Justine acknowledges that sometime these babies need help from a speech therapist to help improve their oral motor skills. Justine is able to liaise with a speech therapist or arrange a joint appointment when necessary.
Fussy Eaters - It can be very normal for young toddlers to go through a fussy stage of eating where they seem to go from eating everything to ‘living on air’. For many of these young toddlers, this can be a very normal part of development. This can happen at a stage when the sensory system is developing and also at a time when children learn to say “no”. This can be a very frustrating stage for parents. Fortunately for many toddlers, this phase is short-lived, however for some young children, they can become stuck in these tricky patterns of eating. Justine will help parents navigate their way through this tricky time, helping parents to set up helpful practices, making mealtimes enjoyable and helping toddlers make friends with food.