with Feeding Difficulties

May 8, 2019

by Erica Lau MS / BCBA

From February 7- February 10, I attended the Sequential-Oral-Sensory (SOS) approach to feeding in La Jolla, San Diego. The conference attendees primarily consisted of occupational therapists, speech therapists, and nutritionists from all over the US. I definitely felt a little out of my element being the only BCBA there. Nonetheless, it was a great opportunity to learn a new skill that would greatly help a number of children we work with.

The conference was led by Dr. Kay Toomey, a Pediatric Psychologist and creator of the SOS approach, Dr. Erin Ross, a Speech Pathologist with a doctoral degree in Health Service Research and Bethany Kortsha, an occupational therapist and Pediatric Feeding Specialist at the Feeding Clinic at STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder with Dr. Lucy Jane Miller.

We really got the trans-disciplinary approach from the three presenters with their different backgrounds. Dr. Toomey talked about her background in behavior modification and went over the learning process of eating. Did you know that most people think eating only requires two steps? According to the SOS conference, eating is actually around 25 steps for a typically developing child and around 32 steps for children with eating issues. Breaking down behavior in steps is right up the ABA alley. From Dr. Ross, we learned several myths about eating. One myth is that eating is the body’s number one priority. Not so! Breathing is the body’s number one priority. Another myth is that children will not intrinsically starve themselves, while studies show that the reverse may occur. Postural stabilization (i.e., keeping the head safe) is the second priority and eating is only the third priority. From Bethany we learned a lot of OT approaches to eating such as how to help our children have postural support when eating. Postural support can also be applied to other behaviors such as sitting at the table to color, which would be of great help to many parents we work with whose child refuses to sit at the table.

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