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Feeding Therapy

Feeding Therapyfeeding therapy

Eating is not a simple process; it requires that food be ingested, swallowed, and finally, digested. Disruption of any of these processes may lead to malnutrition, poor growth, delayed development, and loss of general health and well-being. At High Hopes, we offer oral-motor, sensory, and behavioral-based evaluations and therapy for children whose congenital/acquired medical issues, or behaviorally based impairments affect feeding. Our therapists can work with both you and your child, using specialized techniques, to improve feeding abilities.

Children who may benefit from feeding therapy may demonstrate:
• Food refusal
• Food selectivity by type
• Food selectivity by texture
• Dysphagia (swallowing difficulties)
• Oral motor dysfunction
• Recurrent vomiting
• Failure to thrive
• Mealtime tantrums
• Self-feeding deficits
• Feeding tube dependence

Our clinicians are trained in:
• Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) Approach to Feeding
• Food Chaining
• Beckman Oral Motor Approach
• Pediatric Massage Therapy
• Myofascial Release (MFR)
• Lactation Counseling

The most common causes of feeding and/or swallowing difficulties include:
• Complex medical conditions related to heart, lung, and gastroesophageal diseases
• Oral sensory and motor issues
• Structural abnormalities, such as cleft lip or palate
• Neuromuscular disorders
• Prematurity
• Developmental disabilities
• Social emotional and environmental factors

The signs and symptoms of pediatric dysphagia (swallowing/feeding disorder) can vary from child to child, but they often include:
• Difficulty breathing while feeding or eating
• Coughing, choking, or gagging during or after swallowing
• Crying at mealtimes
• Lack of responsiveness while eating
• Dehydration
• Inability to chew foods that are texturally age-appropriate
• Difficulty swallowing
• Trouble controlling secretions, such as drooling or salivating, unrelated to teething
• Detachment from food, such as turning away, facial grimaces, splayed fingers
• Frequent constipation
• Frequent respiratory illness
• Noisy or wet vocal qualities during or after feeding
• Unnecessarily long feed times
• Refusing foods based on type or texture
• Taking very small amounts, or overstuffing the mouth
• Weight loss or lack of weight gain
• Vomiting

Based on the problems your child is having, the goals of feeding therapy will be:
• Enhancing the strength and coordination of the lips, tongue, and jaw
• Eliminating certain food and drink aversions
• Lessening resistance to feeding
• Decreasing the risk of aspiration

Click here to meet our therapists

  • Upcoming Events

    1. Talbots In-Store Fundraiser

      August 24 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
    2. Special Needs All Access Night at Discovery Center

      August 25 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm
    3. Great Americana BBQ Festival

      August 26 @ 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
    4. Special Saturdays at Christ Presbyterian Church

      September 9 @ 9:00 am - 11:30 am
    5. High Hopes Family Picnic

      September 15 @ 4:30 pm - 7:00 pm
    6. Free Autism Workshop at Vanderbilt

      September 16 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Testimonial

    "Teachers & therapists love the work they do"

    Meet our Elle.  Born in June 2010, Elle was six weeks early and spent almost two weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit learning to eat properly and gain weight.  At six months, we began noticing Elle was not meeting typical goals, like rolling over.  At 14 months, Elle still wasn't pulling up or talking, so we contacted Tennessee's Early Intervention System (TEIS) who said Elle had a Global Development Delay and recommended High Hopes.

    Elle began physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy weekly at High Hopes' Therapy Clinic at 16 months of age.  Shortly after, Elle began attending High Hopes' Preschool and ...


    Learning to "eat like a boss!" ~ Anaya

    Anaya came home from Arkansas at 15 months old.  She had the most vibrant personality and we were smitten with her immediately!  At 15 months, she had never eaten food orally, nor even knew what that required.  She had a feeding tube as her main source of nutrition.

    We had a friend recommend High Hopes and we began seeing a feeding therapist there.  The feeding therapist was so sweet and patient with us as we learned how to teach this phenomenon we call "eating."  We worked together empowering Anaya to do it and she made incredible improvement!  After 6 months at High Hopes Anaya became completely independent of the tube.  Within one year of  Anaya being home, she had her t...


    Miracles Delivered through High Hopes ~ Caleb

    Caleb was born a perfectly healthy little boy July 11, 2012.  Two weeks later our world was turned upside down when he developed bacterial meningitis.  This  journey resulted in a month-long stay at Vanderbilt and life-long effects for Caleb of significant frontal lobe brain damage and risk of seizures.

    Caleb is our little fighter and has always had several guardian angels watching over him.  We came home from the hospital with no idea whether our son would walk, talk, eat well, or function as a typically-developing child.  We only knew we wanted to provide him with the best resources possible.  We sincerely believe it was one of those guardian angels who led us to be introdu...


    A Journey of Success ~ Caroline

    Our journey with High Hopes began in January 2006.  After relocating to Nashville, we were looking for a place for daycare and therapy for our then eight-month old daughter, Caroline, who was born with Down syndrome.  What we found in High Hopes was so much more.

    Because of its unique setting, High Hopes has provided Caroline with a nurturing and caring atmosphere where she not only has gone to school, but also has received the many therapies she needs to thrive.  It gave us the comfort of knowing she was being cared for by compassionate teachers and therapists in a safe environment.  It was important that what Caroline was learning and workin...


    From a tragic beginning to a hopeful future: Meet Grayson

    Grayson was born with an addiction to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.  His withdrawals were so severe, he was in the hospital for three and a half months and was considered one of the worst cases of withdrawals that the nurses at Vanderbilt had ever seen.   As a result of his birth circumstances, Grayson often experienced respiratory distress and was diagnosed as significantly developmentally delayed.

    At 7 months, Grayson began receiving Physical, Occupational, Speech and Feeding therapies at The Therapy Clinic at High Hopes.  His therapists encouraged and supported the family while working to overcome so many obstacles and celebrated alongside them when they were...


    Meet Hatcher

    Hatcher, Stories of HopeHigh Hopes changes lives. My son, Hatcher, came to High Hopes at age one with Down syndrome and leukemia, unable to walk or talk. As a divorced mom with the responsibility of two older children and a baby that required multiple treatments and medical appointments, I could not work outside our home and applied for food stamps just to feed my children.

    When we arrived at High Hopes, we found help,...


    Read More Testimonials »

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