Feeding Specialist Vs. OT

by Crystal
(Springfield, IL)

My son (22 months) has been diagnosed with SPD by and OT therapist but prior to seeing this OT we were seen by a feeding specialist at our local hospital.

My question is that the OT has requested that we stop the feeding sessions until my son has had time to work with an OT therapist on his SPD issues; however when I spoke to the feeding specailist she insists that isn't his problem and he is just a behavior issue, not on a schedule, and is allowed to graze.

Here is my question, can SPD cause my son to eat only 5 to 10 items (bananas, chips, fish sticks, donuts, yogurt, and pizza - that is truly it - he refuses to even put other foods up to his mouth and if done will violently throw things and lerch back and forth). I am having a hard time understanding why the feeding specailist wouldn't at least want to wait until the OT has started to see if there is a problem caused by the SPD. Thanks for your input.

The SPD Help Line Answers...

Ah, I agree with YOU and your OT on this one, for sure! Given the fact that your son has in fact been diagnosed with SPD, and that his OT is knowledgable about how his SPD may be affecting his eating issues, and that she can work on this with him, I would stick with her. And, YES, it is definitely possible that the SPD is affecting him to the point where he has such limited food choices. Texture, smells, tastes, could be influenced by tactile/oral defensiveness. The OT can help you further understand this (and you will find more information on my site about it).

Is it possible the feeding specialist can help solve this? It's possible, but her "behavioral" approach will NOT work if it is related to sensory defensiveness. It may work some, but your child will basically be eating things out of "fear" and not addressing the underlying issues, improving them for good and making him more comfortable. If this were my child, I would stick with the OT for now, and if this doesn't work, go back to the feeding specialist. It is your child and your decision. You can tell her honestly, you want to try the OT's sensory approach first. Additionally, you can acknowledge that it may be "behavioral" as she says, but the OT will need to work on the true underlying sensory issues that are causing the behavior.

Make sense? Just my humble opinion. Does anyone else have any input for mom?? Let us know!

Also, the book I would DEFINITELY get your hands on, as it is written for picky and resistant eaters and done by an OT and an SLP is...

Lastly, make sure you have read my newsletter regarding this topic to find out more about how and why this happens, signs of oral defensiveness and treatment ideas...

Picky And Resistant Eaters

Hope this helps!

Take care.
Michele Mitchell

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Jan 05, 2011
My experience of OT Vs. Behavioral feeding therapy
by: Anonymous

Sensory issues are not studied in an observable manner, as I believe after listening to my child's OT explain what she would do each session.

I switched therapy to a behavioral therapist which explained my son's eating behavior in terms of what I could see. Our therapist was actually able to graph behavior based on the tangible changes that were made between appointments. It allowed me to understand my son's lack of consumption.

The OT approach, of which we tried 6 different therapists with minimal or no progress in my child's eating.

All the OT's stated that it was a sensory problem. Why was it a behavioral therapist and not an OT the eventually helped him?

What we needed all along was a tangible treatment and OT did not supply us with that.

May 28, 2009
New Feeding seminar
by: Anonymous

We are conducting a new series of seminars on pediatric feeding using behavioral methodology. Please visit our website for more information.


Aug 11, 2008
Im 16 and its hard being a picky eater
by: Anonymous

When I was a baby, my parents said I would eat anything. But when I hit the age of 3, I stopped eating everything and cut my list down to 5 items. I was cool with it as a child but now its hard for me to eat certain foods like sandwiches and pizza. When I try to eat it, I gauge constantly and it's my body doing it not me.

Trust me if your child is a picky eater, DONT MAKE IT A BIG DEAL WHEN HE EATS NEW FOOD. I wont tell my mom I eat new foods now because of her reaction. I hope I'll be ok soon but I have to force my self to eat foods. Don't try to force food to your child because your not gonna win. I have been challenged hundreds of times. I always win. Just leave your child alone when he tries a new food and don't start making meals for him with the new food he likes. Let them ask for it or put it as a side dish to make it optional until they are comfortable with it. I might have oral defensiveness but I think i can over come it.

Dec 29, 2007
Stick with your OT
by: jennifer

I am taking my son to be evaluated by an OT that specializes in feeding. Perhaps, you can find such a person near you. My child, 11 months, seems to have oral defensiveness and it definitely is impeding his progress in exploring new foods and learning how to eat a full meal. I took him to an SLP for feeding therapy but they can't address his sensory issues, so after many difficult months we finally found an OT that specializes in feeding. Hope it'll work. Good luck with your OT.

Dec 29, 2007
I agree with Michele....
by: Anonymous

My son also has a very limited variety of foods he will eat, and several of them were the same as yours. I've read before that SPD kids often like carb foods, and they are often all of a similar color. That fits my son to a T and sounds like yours as well. My son also reacts violently to new foods.

I recently had a food question posted on this site and Michele responded telling me my son't OT could help with this issue, something I wasn't aware of. I would definitely go with that since your son's eating patterns follow SPD patterns. Also, if the eating specialist tries to make you feel like you're making a mistake or are wrong, they are not going to be good for your son anyway.

In my opinion, dealing with SPD calls for relying on your own instincts on a daily basis. For example, I think most of us parents of SPD kids have been viewed as being too lenient for giving in to things like the picky eating. But we see the look in our kids eyes when we introduce new foods, and we don't see defiance, we see pain and fear. And our kids depend on our ability to recognize the frustration and fear they live in and to try and help them.

That being said, if your instinct is to give the OT a try, then that is what you should do... and others should respect your choice.

Good Luck!

Michele Mitchell comments...

Thanks for your comments and input Jessi. Very encouraging, true, and supportive! I agree with YOU (hehe).

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